Hurley, his lung reattached, faces a critical next few days


SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Bobby Hurley of the Sacramento Kings is expected to remain in serious condition for the next four to five days with potentially life-threatening injuries sustained in an auto collision near Arco Arena early yesterday, team physicians said yesterday.

Hurley, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected from his truck when it was broadsided by a station wagon about an hour after his team's loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. He landed in a drainage ditch approximately 20 feet away on the other side of road and was taken by ambulance to the University of California Davis Medical Center.

Sacramento police identified the driver of the station wagon as Daniel Wieland, 37, a Sacramento resident. He was in fair condition at the Med Center with a broken leg and other injuries.

Although team and hospital officials released optimistic reports on Hurley's condition early yesterday, he underwent eight hours of emergency surgery yesterday to reattach his left lung to his trachea.

Dr. Richard Marder, a Kings physician and UC Med Center orthopedist, said the information released on Hurley's condition in the aftermath of the accident was purposely incomplete. The first-year guard was described as stable and his injuries as not life-threatening in final briefings.

"We did not release all the information because we were unable to communicate with his family," Marder said during a news conference at the Med Center. "We didn't feel it was appropriate to divulge everything about him prior to me talking to his family . . . or the treating doctors talking to his family."

Doctors said the detachment of Hurley's left lung is the most serious of his injuries. Dr. James Castles, a team physician and Med Center internist, said Hurley originally entered the operating room to have bruises on his left lung treated.

"In the process, it was discovered that he had completely torn the main airway that goes from his trachea to his left lung," Castles said.

"Fortunately, they [the surgeons] were able to put that airway together again and save his left lung. They did not have to remove it. The next four to five days will be very important to determine his outcome. His family is here from New Jersey. They request your prayers."

Drs. F. William Blaisdell and John Benfield performed Hurley's surgery.

Marder refused to discuss the possible resumption of the former Duke University star's basketball career.

"I don't think it's right to speculate right now on his eventual return to profession sports given the gravity of the situation," he said. "We're concerned with saving his life."

Marder said Hurley's injuries remained life-threatening. "But I will say this: Potentially, [they] are reversible. They could heal. If everything goes optimistically, he could heal.

"Bobby actually sustained damage to both lungs, and that's a serious situation," Marder said. "Although this was a critical injury and it has been repaired surgically and he is stable at this time, the feeling is that over the next few days events may occur that could result in dramatic improvement suddenly, or we could have complications which could necessitate further surgery or treatment."

Marder indicated, however, that Hurley had shown improvement following the surgery.

"He is starting to stabilize," he said. "His condition has to be listed as at least serious. But it is very encouraging that he has started to stabilize."

Police said there was no evidence of alcohol in the bloodstream of either driver, and that the results of toxicology tests done by the hospital won't be known for several days.

Indications were that the only charge filed against Wieland would be a traffic citation for driving without headlights. Hurley also is subject to a citation for driving without a seatbelt.

Wieland was driving with an expired license, but Sacramento County court and state Department of Motor Vehicles records indicate a fairly clean record. Wieland has had three traffic tickets since 1984 and apparently allowed his license to expire in July 1991.

Hospital spokeswoman Emily Avila said late yesterday that Wieland probably didn't know the driver in the other car was Hurley because Wieland had been in surgery for a broken femur and had been sedated with pain medication since the accident.

"Our folks aren't going to say, 'Oh, by the way, did you know you almost killed Bobby Hurley?' " she said. "He's in a lot of pain."

Hurley's parents, Chris and Bob Sr., arrived in Sacramento yesterday morning from their Jersey City, N.J., home. They went directly to the hospital.

"He's responsive and has been responding to his family," Marder said. "Since coming out of surgery this morning, he's been improving steadily."

Hurley can't speak while he breathes with the aid of a ventilator. Doctors will eventually "wean him off the ventilator" and get him breathing on his own, hospital spokeswoman Linda King said.

Marder said infection or the accumulation of fluid in the lungs is the doctors' major concern.

"The lungs' air sacs are where the air is supposed to be. That and infection are the complications that could arise."

Marder said Hurley has tubes on each side of his chest connected to his lungs to prevent the buildup of fluid. He also has an endotracheal tube to assist his breathing.

King described the injury to Hurley's left lung as "unusual and life-threatening" and said the treatment of his other injuries would await his response to the lung surgery.

In addition to fractured ribs on both sides of his chest, Hurley suffered ligament damage to his right knee, an injury to his left wrist, a small compression fracture in his lower back and a facial laceration from the corner of his left eye to his left earlobe, Marder said. A splint has been placed on Hurley's left wrist, and his right knee also has been temporarily been stabilized.

Despite Hurley's numerous injuries, Marder suggested that the 22-year-old athlete had been fortunate. "He does not have any major neck or back injuries," Marder said. "That is, in a way, miraculous -- being ejected from the vehicle and not sustaining significant head injury, brain injury or spinal-cord injury."

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