Roethlisberger injured in accident
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is in serious but stable condition and in surgery this afternoon following a serious head injury this morning after his motorcycle collided with a car on Second Avenue near the 10th Street Bridge, police said.
"He is right now in the (operating room) undergoing some surgery from injuries he received in this accident today," said Dr. Larry Jones, chief of trauma and burns at Mercy Hospital, Uptown. ... He was talking to me before he left for the OR. He's coherent. He's making sense. He knows what happened."
Roethlisberger, 24, who was not wearing a helmet, collided with a Chrysler New Yorker shortly before 11:25 a.m. and was thrown off his motorcycle, flying head-first into the car's windshield "with a pretty good force," said a veteran city police officer.
Roethlisberger was talking and moving his arms and legs after the accident. He suffered injuries to his face and lost several teeth, according to city firefighters.
The injured quarterback was taken to Mercy Hospital, said a Steelers spokesman, who declined to provide other information.
The car, which has Maine license plates, was heading west on Second Avenue and was turning left onto the 10th Street Bridge. Roethlisberger was driving east on Second Avenue riding a Suzuki Hayabusa and collided with the car at the intersection of the bridge and the Armstrong Tunnels.
Roethlisberger, who led the Steelers to a Super Bowl championship this year, slammed into the windshield, rolled over the car and landed on the pavement, striking his head again, said a woman who witnessed the accident.
The witness, who declined to give her name, asked Roethlisberger several times if he was OK. He eventually replied, "My name is Ben."
He asked: "Where am I?"
"You're at the Armstrong Tunnel," the witness said.
"What city is that in?" he said.
"Pittsburgh," the woman replied.
Roethlisberger fell silent for about a minute and then tried to stand up.
"I'm OK," he said.
"No you're not," said the woman, who instructed him to stay still.
Pittsburgh homicide detectives are investigating the accident, which is standard procedure when critical injuries are involved, said city police Lt. Kevin Kraus.
Roethlisberger's 2005 Suzuki Hayabusa, which is named after a Japanese bird of prey, was totaled. The front wheel was broken in half. The handle bars were broken. The left pedal was shattered. The 170-horsepower bike, which weighs 500 pounds fully loaded, was targeted by law enforcement agencies worldwide after its 1998 debut because it could reach a top speed of 189 mph.
Suzuki Motorcycles of North America gave Roethlisberger the bike as part of a promotional deal in exchange for him appearing at several Suzuki dealerships in the area, including Andrews Cycle in Salem, Ohio where he picked up the motorcycle last summer. Andrews' sales staff declined comment.
The motorcycle is popular among first-time buyers, said Steve Stiller, a salesman at Northgate Motorcycles in Cranberry, Butler County.
Roethlisberger has said in the past that he prefers not to wear a helmet when riding his motorcycle. He has pointed out Pennsylvania's 35-year-old state law requiring helmets to be worn was amended to make helmets optional.
In May 2005, Steelers coach Bill Cowher lectured Roethlisberger on the dangers of riding without a helmet.
"He talked about being a risktaker and I'm not really a risktaker. I'm pretty conservative and laid back, but the big thing is to just be careful," Roethlisberger said at the time. "I'll just continue to be careful. I told him we don't ever ride alone, we always ride in a group of people, and I think it makes it even more safe."
In May 2005, Cleveland Browns tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. tore knee ligaments in a motorcycle accident and was lost for the season.
Roethlisberger continued to ride after Winslow's accident and that angered Terry Bradshaw, who quarterbacked the Steelers to four Super Bowl victories during the 1970s.
Visiting the Steelers' training camp last summer, Bradshaw remarked: "Ride it when you retire."
Earlier this year, Roethlisberger led the Steelers to the NFL title, giving the team the fifth Super Bowl win they had been chasing since 1980.
I bet he wears a helmet from this point on!