Peter Jeschke and Heath Montgomery packed their three U.S. Olympic Festival medals and left Los Angeles early Thursday to return to Santa Barbara.
The tennis players almost didn't make it.
Jeschke and Montgomery, both 18, from Santa Barbara High, were involved in a single-car accident on the Ventura Freeway that left Montgomery with a broken left ankle and injured feet. Jeschke, who was sleeping when the accident occurred, was badly shaken but uninjured.
They were treated and released at Ventura Community Medical Center, but Montgomery is expected to have foot surgery today, his mother, Sherri, said. She said doctors did not know the extent of the injury, but "he won't be playing for a long time."
Montgomery's Jeep Cherokee struck a median divider, did a full circle and skidded down a 50-foot embankment off the freeway, said Officer Jim Utter of the California Highway Patrol.
"I woke up going backward down a hill," Jeschke said.
Jeschke, who will attend Arizona State in the fall, teamed with Rob Chess of New Jersey to win the men's doubles gold medal Wednesday. Montgomery and Cindy Kuragami of Buena Park won the mixed doubles gold medal, and he also won a bronze medal in men's singles.
Jeschke said Montgomery was stuck in an exit lane for Ojai before crashing. He said Montgomery tried to change lanes, but the steering wheel did not respond.
When the vehicle came to rest in a ravine, Montgomery's foot was pinned between the door and the floorboard. The engine was racing because the gas pedal was stuck on full throttle. The vehicle caught fire, and Jeschke was handed a fire extinguisher by a passerby.