Brady unharmed in crash; 2d driver has long record

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By Peter Schworm and Milton J. Valencia
Globe Staff / September 10, 2010

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New England’s celebrity quarterback, Tom Brady, emerged stunned but unscathed yesterday after a minivan driven by a man with a long driving record plowed into his car as he headed to Foxborough for morning practice, police said.

Brady had just begun his drive to Foxborough when a 1997 Mercury Villager minivan plowed into the front of his 2010 black Audi S8 as he attempted to turn from Gloucester Street near his Back Bay home onto Commonwealth Avenue, authorities said. The driver, 21-year-old Ludgero Rodrigues of Brockton, who has a six-page record of driving infractions and license suspensions, was cited for running a red light.

The minivan was badly damaged in the crash and trapped Rodrigues’s 49-year-old father, Rogerio, who was freed with the Jaws of Life and taken to Brigham and Woman’s Hospital.

The accident triggered a fan and media frenzy that rolled across Internet sites throughout the day and drew crowds to the Back Bay crash site.

Ann Geupel, 74, said she was about to cross Commonwealth Avenue with her two dogs when she saw the red minivan speeding down the road. She said she stayed on the curb even though the signal had changed to green, fearing the onrushing van would not stop in time. “I was about to get into the road and saw this red car coming and said out loud, ‘Oh my God, that car is not going to stop,’ ’’ she said. “I heard this huge crash, and the red car is up in the air and glass is going everywhere. If I had taken two more steps, I would have been under the car when it landed.’’

Geupel, badly shaken by the crash, said Brady asked her whether the car had run the light, and she replied that it “absolutely’’ had.

According to Registry of Motor Vehicles records, the driver of the minivan has a lengthy driving record. Due to repeated infractions, he had already taken a driver safety class in 2008. His violations include failure to use seat belts, failure to use child safety seats, driving an uninspected vehicle, driving without a license, and failure to signal, according to data provided by the Registry.

News of the crash spread rapidly yesterday morning, briefly alarming legions of Patriots fans. But even after it was clear that the 33-year-old superstar who has led the Patriots to four Super Bowls was OK, waves of reports clogged Internet celebrity sites, which spotlighted video and photos of Brady looking stunned amid broken glass near his damaged car. Scores of gawking fans and throngs of media came to the crash scene hours after the wreck site had been cleared.

Brady declined medical treatment at the scene, and within hours was practicing at Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots prepared for their season opener Sunday. He appeared fine, jogging, stretching, and doing some light passing in full pads.

He did not speak publicly about the accident, although through his agent expressed “concern and support for the well-being of the occupants of the other vehicle.’’

Brady did not appear in the locker room after practice, but teammates said he seemed to be no worse for wear.

“I asked him if he was OK. He said, ‘I’m fine,’ ’’ said linebacker Tully Banta-Cain. “I saw him walking in with a smile on his face, no abrasions, so I think he’s fine. That was my first reaction.’’

Still, witnesses said, it was a frightening crash.

Hanna LeStrange, who had been staying with a friend on Commonwealth Avenue, said the noise woke her with a start. After rushing to the scene, she was startled to see the superstar quarterback. “He was sort of bent over, and looked completely shaken up,’’ she said. “He got up and started wiping his jeans.’’

Bill Barron, who lives near the intersection, said the crash sounded like thunder. He didn’t realize it was Brady until he watched news reports later, but wished him well.

Another witness said Brady emerged from his Audi sedan and “looked a little shook up, shaking his hands.’’ Brady went into an ambulance and a few minutes later was picked up by someone in a Jeep Cherokee.

The elder Rodrigues brought his family from Cape Verde about two years ago, according to two of his daughters. They live together, except for Ludgero Rodrigues, the eldest. He often comes home to help the family with chores.

The young daughters speak little English, but said their father likes to tell jokes. He was being seen at a hospital for a back problem, said the landlord, Lucy Furtado. She described the family as “good people.’’

“They always pay their rent on time. They take great care of the property,’’ she said. “It’s a shame something so terrible happened to them, especially with a big football player.’’

Hours after the crash, Eamon McCleery, a California resident in town for a wedding, saw the news trucks and realized he must have arrived at the crash site.

“I’d hate to be the guy who hit Tom Brady,’’ he noted wryly.

Globe staff reporters Maria Cramer, Meghan Irons, and John M. Guilfoil contributed to this report.

Correction: Because of inaccurate records on file with the Registry of Motor Vehicles, an earlier version of this story misstated the driving record of the other driver involved in the accident with Tom Brady. Ludgero Rodrigues has never been charged with drunken driving.

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