'Miracle on Ice' coach died Aug. 11

Updated: September 16, 2003, 12:30 PM ET
Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Former U.S. Olympic hockey coach Herb Brooks probably fell asleep at the wheel before his fatal car crash last month, according to a report released Tuesday by the State Patrol.

The coach of the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" team was returning from a fund-raiser Aug. 11 in northeastern Minnesota when his minivan went off the highway and rolled. He wasn't wearing a seatbelt and was thrown from the vehicle.

The report confirmed Brooks wasn't drinking, speeding, talking on his cell phone or having a health problem before the crash. Patrol officials said weather and road conditions were ruled out as contributing factors.

"Based on witness statements and examination of evidence, State Patrol investigators believe that Brooks most likely fell asleep at the wheel," said a State Patrol statement.

"It was pretty much what we thought the report would say," Brooks' son, Dan, told the Star Tribune.

"The State Patrol investigated the scene, and talked to eyewitnesses, the people my dad was with that weekend and the coroner and concluded to the best of their ability that he fell asleep. We would have been surprised if we learned he had been stung by a bee or something like that."

On the day of the accident, Brooks attended a U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame celebrity golf event in Eveleth, leaving around noon to catch a flight from Minneapolis to Chicago.

He veered off the road in a 70-mile-per-hour zone of the freeway near Forest Lake. The Anoka County coroner's office ruled Brooks was thrown from his vehicle and died of blunt-force chest and abdominal injuries. He was 66.

"We'll probably never know for sure what happened, but the marks on the roadway indicate fatigue was involved," State Patrol Lt. Chuck Walerius said.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press