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NHL All-Star Faces Charges After Crash

Thrashers' Heatley breaks his jaw and teammate Snyder suffers a fractured skull when car slams into a pillar.

October 01, 2003|Helene Elliott | Times Staff Writer

Dany Heatley of the Atlanta Thrashers, the most valuable player of the 2003 All-Star game, faces a felony charge and four misdemeanor charges after crashing his high-performance car into a pillar in the Buckhead district of Atlanta late Monday, breaking his jaw and leaving teammate Dan Snyder with a depressed skull fracture.

Heatley was charged with "serious injury by a vehicle," a felony that carries a sentence of one to 15 years in prison in Georgia. He was also charged with reckless driving, driving too fast for conditions, driving on the wrong side of the road and striking a fixed object.

Police in Atlanta estimated Heatley was driving 80 mph in a 35-mph zone when he lost control of his Ferrari, swerved across a divider on a residential road and hit the pillar and a fence, nearly cutting the car in half upon impact. Snyder was thrown about 30 feet. Doctors told Canada's TSN network that Snyder, after surgery, was in a medically induced coma. Preliminary readings from a pressure monitor implanted in his brain were satisfactory, and he was breathing on his own, but he was listed in critical condition.

Results of tests on Heatley's blood-alcohol level were not expected for several days. He will undergo surgery on his jaw this week. The players had attended a team reception for season-ticket holders before the accident.

Several NHL players have died in crashes in which they were driving fast. Flyer goalie Pelle Lindbergh died in a 1985 car accident -- his blood-alcohol level was reportedly .27 -- and Carolina defenseman Steve Chiasson died in a single-car crash in 1999. Hall-of-fame defenseman Tim Horton died in a 1974 crash.

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Times wire services contributed to this report.

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