Konstantinov Still Unconscious; Driver Lacked a Valid License

From Associated Press

Vladimir Konstantinov remained unconscious and on a ventilator Saturday with a critical head injury after a limousine crash Friday night in Birmingham, Mich.

Teammate Slava Fetisov and two others also were injured in the crash.

“The long-term prognosis for this is impossible to tell,” said Dr. James Robbins, a trauma surgeon at William Beaumont Hospital. “The next few days are going to be very important to determine which way he is going to go.

“Can he recover? Absolutely . . . that’s what we continue to hope and pray for.”

Konstantinov underwent surgery on his right elbow to repair a tendon and remove debris. He also had a pressure monitor placed in his head.


“I have absolutely no idea whether he’ll play again,” Robbins said.

Konstantinov, a hard-hitting defenseman, helped Detroit end a 42-year drought with a four-game sweep of the Philadelphia Flyers.

“Our organization is devastated,” Red Wing captain Steve Yzerman said. “I hope and I ask for everyone’s prayers. Do what ever you do in difficult times that help make things work out better.”

Fetisov, also a defenseman, was in good condition Saturday with chest injuries and a bruised lung, Robbins said.

Two others also were injured when the limousine struck a tree Friday night. Team masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov was in critical condition after undergoing surgery to relieve pressure caused by his closed head injury. Unlicensed limousine driver Richard Gnida was listed in good condition.

The accident occurred at about 9:15 p.m., 15 miles down the same road where the Red Wings’ victory parade was held three days earlier before more than a million people.

Birmingham police Sgt. John VanGorder said in a release that the limousine was moving from the second lane from the left to the far left lane when it continued moving left onto the median and struck a tree.


“There were no other vehicles that were involved in this accident. Witnesses said the roadway was clear in front of the limousine and there was no car that caused the limousine to move into the median,” he said.

Witnesses said the limousine was moving within the speed limit, he said.

Robbins said there was no indication that alcohol or drugs were involved in the accident.

The driver, Gnida, did not hold a valid driver’s license at the time of the accident. Liz Boyd, spokeswoman for the Michigan secretary of state, said Gnida’s driver’s license was most recently revoked in January 1996 and that he was not eligible for review until January 1998.

It was the second time his license had been revoked. Since 1994, he had been ticketed for operating while impaired, operating under the influence and unlawful bodily alcohol content and twice for speeding, Boyd said.

John Gambino, owner of the Gambino’s Limousine Service of Belleville, said Friday night that he did not know Gnida had a bad driving record. He said his secretary checks records before drivers are hired.

Calls to the limousine company on Saturday were referred to attorney Dan Blank, who said he could not comment until he had more time to investigate.