SEATTLE — Dale Ellis of the Seattle SuperSonics suffered three broken ribs and a collapsed lung when his car hit a highway barrier Friday. He was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving.
Ellis, 29, an all-star guard, was in satisfactory condition at Harborview Medical Center, according to spokeswoman Pam Round.
Authorities gave this account of the accident: Ellis' 1989 Mercedes-Benz struck a barrier in a "Y" that splits the road into express and local traffic lanes.
The car then careened across a lane and struck a movable arm that controls access to the express lanes. The passenger side of the black, two-door sedan was heavily damaged.
Ellis was not taken into police custody after the 2 a.m. accident but was transported directly to Harborview.
Ellis was offered a blood-alcohol test at Harborview, but Washington State Police declined to say whether Ellis took the test.
"My only concern and thoughts are that Dale Ellis recovers," said Bernie Bickerstaff, SuperSonic coach.
"Basketball becomes secondary in this situation. We were down there last night with him . . . for most of the night. He'll do all right," he said.
SuperSonic President Bob Whitsitt said Ellis was expected to recover fully.
Ellis, the team's leading scorer this season, had 29 points Thursday in the SuperSonics' 98-87 victory over the Dallas Mavericks at the Seattle Coliseum. He was averaging 23 points, 15th best in the NBA.
Police records show Ellis has been cited for moving violations nine times in King County during the past three years. Those citations include five for speeding, a driving history that county Deputy Prosecutor Mark Larson said might worsen Ellis' penalty if he is convicted.
For first-time offenders in Washington, driving while intoxicated carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. The mandatory minimum sentence is one day in jail, $250 in fines, $150 in court costs and revocation of driving privileges for 90 days.
Ellis' case is not expected to come up in court for at least two months, Larson said.
In 1987, Ellis crashed a BMW into an interstate divider and abandoned the car. The car was a loaner from an auto-repair company that was working on his Jaguar. Ellis reportedly blamed the accident on the BMW's steering.