Investigation continues as Smith's friend dies of crash injuries
NEPTUNE, N.J. -- A police investigation will determine whether Denver Nuggets guard J.R. Smith will face additional charges in a motor vehicle accident that resulted in the death of Smith's passenger, a close friend.
Andre Bell, 21, was sitting in the back seat of the sport utility vehicle Smith was driving when it went through a stop sign, collided with another car and flipped over at 5:30 p.m. Saturday in Millstone Township.
Bell, who was in a coma, died from head injuries at 6 p.m. Monday at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, state police spokesman Sgt. Stephen Jones said.
Smith, 21, who was also thrown from the vehicle, remained at Jersey Shore on Monday with an injured left shoulder and numerous scratches, Jones said. Neither man was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, he said.
Jones said prosecutors will continue investigating evidence from the accident, including results on a toxicology test of Smith, before deciding if additional charges should be filed, according to The Denver Post.
"If [Bell's death] changes anything, it changes the way the prosecutor might look at it," Jones said, according to the Post. "They are the ones we work with in terms of charges beyond any traffic charges."
Earl Smith, the father of J.R. Smith, told the newspaper that his son and Bell were close. He said the accident is weighing heavily on his son.
"They bonded. They were the best of friends," Earl Smith said, according to the Post. "He's just praying for his friend. It's the toughest part."
Smith has been issued two traffic tickets for failure to stop at a stop sign and improper passing, Jones said. Both carry fines, though the amount was not immediately known.
A third person in Smith's car and the driver of the car he hit suffered only minor injuries.
Nuggets spokesman Eric Sebastian said he did not know when Smith might be discharged from the hospital.
"I think it's too early to say," Sebastian said. "From everything we hear, he's going to be OK."
Sebastian said he did not know if Smith would miss any preparation time for the 2007-08 NBA season, but added, "We didn't hear anything that would indicate his career would be jeopardized in any way."
Smith averaged 13.0 points in 63 games for Denver this past season.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.