According to published reports, Ben Roethlisberger was traveling on Second Avenue when a vehicle coming in the opposite direction turned left in front of him. Roethlisberger was unable to stop in time and hit the passenger side door and windshield of the vehicle before plowing head first into the pavement. According to witnesses at the scene, as reported by local stations WPXI and KDKA, Ben was not wearing a helmet and appeared to have head and facial injuries. The Post-Gazette have also reported police confirmation that Ben was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.
The car involved in the accident was a New Yorker with Maine plates, driven by Martha Fleishman, 62, of Squirrel Hill. "She really feels terrible about what happened, and we certainly wish him a speedy recovery," her husband, Martin Fleishman, told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. The accident is under investigation and no charges have been filed.
Ben underwent several hours of surgery this afternoon to repair a shattered jaw, an injury that takes approximately 7 weeks to heal. WTAE is reporting that Roethlisberger suffered a broken jaw, broke his left sinus cavity, suffered a 9-inch laceration to the back of his head, lost many teeth and has severe injuries to his knees from hitting the pavement. Other reports also indicate that he broke his nose. The extent of his knee injuries are unknown.
Ben Roethlisberger has often said that he prefers not to wear a helmet when riding his motorcycle, and points out the fact that Pennsylvania doesn't seem to think it is necessary given that they repealed their 35-year-old helmet law in September 2003. Former Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw has openly criticized him for this decision, saying "ride it when you retire." But whether or not you think he's stupid for not wearing a helmet, what matters now is that he makes it through this OK.
In typical Pittsburgh style, the news of Ben's accident has spread like wildfire. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has devoted at least 10 reporters to the story, and the Web site of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review has been unavailable for periods of time due to the large increase in traffic. The support from fans has been overwhelming as well, with thousands showing up at the hospital or leaving well wishes on area forums and Web sites.
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