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Steelers Pivot 'Serious, Stable' After Seven Hours in OR


PITTSBURGH - After seven hours of surgery to repair facial injuries, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was in stable but serious condition in Mercy Hospital here today. No other serious injuries were reported from his motorcycle accident yesterday.

PITTSBURGH, June 13 - After seven hours of surgery to repair facial injuries, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was in stable but serious condition in Mercy Hospital here today.

The 24-year-old athlete, who took the Steelers to the Super Bowl championship in his second season, was injured after the motorcycle he was riding, a 2005 Suzuki Hayabusa, collided with a 1996 Chrysler New Yorker at a downtown Pittsburgh intersection yesterday morning.

Roethlisberger, who was not wearing a helmet, reportedly struck the car's passenger side when the driver turned left in front of him. He hit the windshield and then the ground, breaking his jaw and nose.

At a news conference last night, Mercy Hospital surgeons said-aside from the head injuries-Roethlisberger appears to have escaped other injury. Reports that he was undergoing knee surgery proved unfounded.

"Mr. Roethlisberger was evaluated by our trauma team and taken to the operating room, where he underwent surgery for multiple facial fractures," said Daniel Pituch, M.D., chief of the division of oral and maxillofacial surgery at Mercy, who led the surgical team.

"All of the fractures were successfully repaired," Dr. Pituch said. "His brain, spine, chest, and abdomen appear to be without serious injury, and there are no other confirmed injuries at this time."

"He remains listed in serious, but stable condition," Dr. Pituch said. Roethlisberger's family asked that no other medical details be released.

Roethlisberger is known for preferring to ride his motorcycle without a helmet. Pennsylvania state law does not require motorcyclists to wear helmets.

However, Steelers coach Bill Cowher is on record as having urged his quarterback to wear a helmet.

The warning came in May 2005 after Cleveland Browns tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. damaged a knee and was lost for the season in a motorcycle accident. Winslow was reportedly wearing a helmet at the time, but it was unfastened and flew off during the accident.

A pro football career "is a very small time in your life, and you've got to be very careful," Cowher reportedly said. "You can see it documented with Kellen Winslow."

Cowher "talked about being a risk-taker and I'm not really a risk-taker," Roethlisberger told reporters at the time. "I'm pretty conservative and laid back, but the big thing is to just be careful."

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), single car-motorcycle crashes account for about 45% of all fatalities among motorcycle riders; fewer than half of those who died were wearing helmets at the time.

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