Bell booked on drunk driving, hit-and-run suspicion

Updated: September 7, 2006, 4:36 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- San Jose Sharks forward Mark Bell was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving and felony hit-and-run after an early morning accident during the Labor Day weekend.

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Bell, who played his first four NHL seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, was acquired by the Sharks in a three-team trade on July 10. Days later, he received a new three-year contract that will pay him $2 million for the upcoming season.

San Jose police were called to the scene of a two-car accident early Monday morning in the San Jose foothills, according to Sgt. Nick Muyo. A 2003 Toyota sedan rear-ended a Datsun pickup, leaving the truck's 40-year-old driver with head injuries and cuts.

Officers located Bell a short distance from the scene of the accident and administered chemical tests. Bell was arrested and booked into the San Jose County Jail, Muyo said.

Jail spokesman Mark Cursi said Bell was released on a $35,000 bond later Monday.

Ken Robinson, hired Tuesday as Bell's attorney, said his client is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 18, three days after the Sharks open training camp -- though the date might be changed. Robinson plans to discuss the case with the district attorney's office this week.

Robinson also said he thought Bell had incurred "some sort of head injury" in the accident, but wasn't seriously hurt.

Muyo said the police department wouldn't yet release results of its chemical tests. The truck driver's condition wasn't immediately available, but the injuries weren't thought to be serious.

Bell, 26, had career highs of 25 goals and 23 assists last season for the Blackhawks, who chose him with the eighth overall pick in 1998. He was named Chicago's "Man of the Year" last season for his charity work and community service.

The power forward excelled in junior hockey with the Ottawa 67's, but struggled to become a star with the struggling Blackhawks. The Sharks loved Bell's physical game, trading defenseman Tom Preissing in the three-team deal.

Bell was expected to play alongside NHL MVP Joe Thornton and goal-scoring champion Jonathan Cheechoo on San Jose's top line this fall. Bell had been in San Jose for at least two weeks, working out and skating with his new teammates in anticipation of training camp on Sept. 15.

"We are aware of the incident, and it's not one that our organization takes lightly," said Greg Jamison, the Sharks' president and CEO. "Mark is an excellent young man. ... Our organization has always believed in accountability and responsibility for your actions. We are in the process of finding out the details of the situation and will treat this as an internal matter moving forward."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press