Thankful Hurley looking ahead

December 30, 1993|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Staff Writer

Sacramento Kings guard Bobby Hurley yesterday recalled the horror he felt the first time he saw pictures from the two-vehicle accident on Dec. 12 that nearly cost him his life.

"I got a little sick to my stomach," said Hurley. "I couldn't believe that I actually went through that, that I was able to survive. My car looked like an accordion."

Hurley's body was in no better shape, having suffered injuries that include two collapsed lungs, a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and broken ribs in the accident about a mile away from the Arco Arena, where the Kings play their home games. When his truck was broadsided, Hurley -- who was not wearing a seat belt -- was ejected from the vehicle and thrown 100 feet into a water-filled ditch. His condition was critical; his injuries were deemed life-threatening.

But though he barely can walk from one end of his apartment to the other without getting winded, fate has been good to Hurley. He was released from the hospital on Christmas Eve, and his recovery has gone so well that he did a television interview from his Sacramento apartment on Christmas and a half-hour conference call with the national media yesterday.

Hurley said he appreciates life more, that he's hoping his knee injury won't require surgery and that he's looking forward to his return to basketball.

"Initially, when I first got into the hospital and realized what was happening, basketball was not that important," Hurley said. "It was, 'Will I live through this? Will I be normal?'

"Now, as I'm feeling a lot better, my goals have shifted a little bit. I'm starting to think about basketball more, and I'm trying to get back to where I was."

Since the accident, Hurley has had a physical therapist working with him daily. And several times a day he uses a machine that builds strength in his lungs. An orthopedist examined his knees and found that there was a 3 percent difference in the strength of his injured right knee and his left knee.

"He said that after surgery if there's only a 3 percent difference, the surgery has been successful," Hurley said. "The knee is looking pretty good from this point. The doctor doesn't even know if surgery is necessary."

For Hurley, the only memories of that night are of the moment of impact -- when his truck was hit by a car whose headlights apparently were out -- and of teammate Mike Peplowski comforting him in the ditch.

"I replay this a lot, and it just seems like everything had been in place for me to live," Hurley said. "There was the guy who saw the accident. . . . Not many people use that road, so I was lucky.

"To see Peplowski helped me. And the doctor on call was reading an article on the [trachea] injury that I had and was able to diagnose it quickly and repair it. It just seemed that everything was with me that night."

Hurley said the "toughness" that's often used to describe his play could have played a role in his survival.

"The person who found me said that he could barely hear me yelling for help, but that I was still yelling," Hurley said. "Maybe my ability to yell to him may have helped me. That may have something to do with the toughness."

Since the accident, the calls, cards and letters from friends, family and fans has been nonstop.

He's heard from ex-Duke teammates and current Minnesota Timberwolves Christian Laettner and Brian Davis. Gifts have included T-shirts, homemade cookies and compact discs sent by the rock group R.E.M.

"The people have really been supporting me through everything that's happened," Hurley said.

"It's been a tough time for me and my family."

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