Blood-alcohol test given; results unknown

Originally Published: September 30, 2003
ESPN.com news services

ATLANTA -- Atlanta Thrashers star Dany Heatley was charged Tuesday with reckless driving for veering off a road and slamming his sports car into a wall at about 80 mph -- a crash that left him with a broken jaw and teammate Dan Snyder critically injured with a skull fracture.

Dan Snyder
Snyder

Dany Heatley
Heatley

Heatley was also charged with serious injury by vehicle, a felony, and three other misdemeanors -- driving too fast for conditions, driving on the wrong side of the road and striking a fixed object, according to the police.

"Our preliminary reports indicated speed may have been a factor," Police spokesman Sgt. Kevin Iosty said.

Heatley took a blood-alcohol test, but results will not be available for weeks, according to police.

Officers estimated the car was traveling about 80 mph.

Heatley and Snyder attended an event for season ticketholders at Philips Arena on Monday night, and left in Heatley's Ferrari about 9:15 p.m., the team said.

Iosty said Heatley lost control of the car on a curve on a two-lane road in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood about 10:30 p.m., and the vehicle crossed into the other lane, left the road and struck a wall in front of an apartment complex.

The car broke in half and both men were ejected, police said.

Early Tuesday morning, Snyder underwent a two-hour surgery at Grady Memorial Hospital for a depressed fracture in his skull, the team said. Heatley was in stable condition.

At a news conference at the hospital, the neurosurgeon who operated on Snyder said that he was still unconscious but that there wasn't any bleeding into the brain.

"It'll be a few days before we know we can even tell a prognosis," Dr. Sanjay Gupta said. "The underlying brain actually looked pretty good."

Heatley also has a minor concussion, a contusion on his lung and a bruised kidney, according to the team's physician, Dr. Scott Gillogly.

"In addition, there is evidence of injuries to his right knee and left shoulder, which will be evaluated as time goes on," said Gillogly, who indicated that none of the injuries appeared to threaten Heatley's career.

The Thrashers canceled practice Tuesday and were considering canceling Wednesday night's preseason game against Florida.

"Nobody's really thinking about hockey," team captain Shawn McEachern said. "We're thinking about the guys."

Usually energetic Thrashers coach Bob Hartley was sullen as he answered questions at the team's training headquarters in Duluth, in suburban Atlanta. His voice often wavered with emotion, and tears welled in his eyes.

"Right now, our thoughts and prayers are just with the two (players) and their families," Hartley said. "We're a big family. ... When you face adversity or tragedy like we are now, you get even closer."

Snyder, a center who scored 10 goals and added four assists in 36 games for Atlanta last season, had surgery on his ankle earlier this month before the start of training camp. He was expected to start the season on the injured list.

The 25-year-old player signed with the Thrashers as a free agent in 1999 after playing four seasons of junior hockey for Owen Sound in the Ontario Hockey League.

He spent most of his first three professional seasons in the minor leagues, helping Orlando win the International Hockey League title in 2000-01 and playing on the Chicago Wolves' American Hockey League championship team in 2001-02. He also played 35 games for Chicago last season, scoring 11 goals and adding 12 assists.

Heatley, 22, was the NHL rookie of the year in 2001-02 and led Atlanta in scoring last season with a team-record 41 goals and 48 assist. He already is the Thrashers' career scoring leader with 155 points. He scored four goals in the 2003 All-Star game and was selected the MVP. The former University of Wisconsin player was picked second in the 2000 draft.

Before the start of training camp, Heatley traded in his long curls for closely cropped hair, and he seemed to embrace his role as a team leader. A skilled scorer, Heatley -- 6-3, 215 pounds with a gap-tooth smile -- is also known for his toughness.

He and Ilya Kovalchuk are the cornerstones of a franchise that hasn't made the playoffs in its first four seasons but has plenty of young talent.

Hartley and team president Stan Kasten would not discuss how Heatley's injuries or the charges against him might affect his role with the team.

"Our focus is on our two guys," Hartley said. "We're praying about their health, to overcome this tragedy."

Kasten spoke with Heatley when the players arrived at the hospital.

"His first concern was about Danny Snyder," Kasten said.

The Thrashers last played on Saturday night, with Heatley scoring an overtime goal in a 3-2 exhibition victory over Nashville in Richmond, Va.

The Thrashers' first regular-season game is next Thursday night against Columbus.

Information from The Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.