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Roethlisberger injured in crash

Steelers' QB suffers broken jaw, nose

Authorities work the scene where Pitttsburgh Steelers star Ben Roethlisberger was injured in a motorcycle accident.
Authorities work the scene where Pitttsburgh Steelers star Ben Roethlisberger was injured in a motorcycle accident. (AP Photo)

PITTSBURGH -- Steelers star Ben Roethlisberger, the youngest quarterback to lead a team to the Super Bowl championship, underwent several hours of surgery to repair a broken jaw and nose and stitch up a reported nine-inch gash on his head after a motorcycle crash yesterday in downtown Pittsburgh.

Roethlisberger, who also lost an unspecified number of teeth, was in serious but stable condition, Dr. Larry Jones, chief of trauma at Mercy Hospital said before surgery.

``He was talking to me before he left for the operating room," Jones said. ``He's coherent. He's making sense. He knows what happened. He knows where he is. From that standpoint, he's very stable."

Roethlisberger's mother, Brenda, was crying as she arrived at the hospital.

Steelers president Art Rooney II said the team was ``encouraged by the early reports from the medical team" at the hospital. ``I am sure Ben knows that we are praying for his complete recovery."

The 24-year-old Roethlisberger was not wearing a helmet, police said. He has said he likes to ride without one, a habit that once prompted a lecture from Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher.

Roethlisberger was on his black 2005 Suzuki Hayabusa -- the company calls it the world's fastest bike for legal street riding -- and heading toward an intersection on the edge of downtown. A Chrysler New Yorker traveling in the opposite direction took a left turn and collided with the motorcycle, and Roethlisberger was thrown, police said.

The other car was driven by a 62-year-old woman, police said. They didn't immediately release her name and no charges were filed.

Witness Sandra Ford was waiting at a bus stop when she said she saw the motorcycle approach. Seconds later, she said she heard a crash, saw the motorcyclist in the air and ran toward the crash scene.

``He wasn't moving and I was afraid that he had died. He wasn't really speaking. He seemed dazed but he was resisting the effort to make him stay down," said Ford, who didn't realize the motorcyclist was Roethlisberger.

Police spokesman Lt. Kevin Kraus said police and homicide units were leading the investigation, a standard practice when there is an accident with critical injuries.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, playing in the team's charity golf tournament in Belmont, Mass., expressed his concern after learning of the accident.

``Obviously football is the farthest thing from his mind," said Brady. ``Hopefully he is OK, and I'm sure everybody out here would feel the same.

``Motorcycles are so dangerous. What happened to Kellen Winslow and Jayson Williams. I'm sure you always kind of do things and probably re-evaluate after they happen. You certainly hope nothing serious like this ever happens.

``A lot of times you might think you're kind of invincible as a person. You drive fast, or do things you probably shouldn't be doing. I know guys who ride motorcycles and it's scary stuff. I don't know why that accident was caused but hopefully he is OK."

Offensive lineman Matt Light is one of several Patriots who ride motorcycles.

``There are a lot of guys throughout the league that ride," said Light. ``It's a risk you take, but it's just like doing anything. Something can happen at anytime."

Jerome Solomon of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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