October 7 , 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 22  

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SPORTS

Dan Snyder : 1978-2003

ATLANTA (AP) - Atlanta Thrashers forward Dan Snyder died Sunday night, six days after he was involved in a horrific car crash with teammate Dany Heatley.

Snyder, of Elmira, ON, died in hospital from massive brain injuries without ever regaining consciousness, the team said.

Snyder, 25, underwent surgery for a skull fracture but never emerged from his coma.

"We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Dan Snyder," the Thrashers said in a statement. "Dan was a teammate and friend to all of us. We feel a tremendous amount of pain as an organization and extend deepest sympathies to his family."

Snyder, a centre who had 10 goals and four assists in 36 games for Atlanta last season, had surgery on his ankle in September before the start of training camp. He was expected to start the season on the injured list.

"The news of his passing fills all of us with an overwhelming sense of sorrow," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "The NHL extends its deepest sympathies to his parents who have lost a cherished son, to siblings who have lost a loving brother and to players who have lost a devoted teammate. Our prayers go out to his entire family."

Snyder signed with the Thrashers as a free agent in 1999 after playing four seasons of junior hockey for Owen Sound in the Ontario Hockey League.

He spent most of his first three professional seasons in the minor leagues, helping Orlando win the International Hockey League title in 2000-01 and playing on the Chicago Wolves' American Hockey League championship team in 2001-02. He also played 35 games for Chicago last season, getting 11 goals and 12 assists.

Snyder's death came as a shock, said Brian O'Leary, an assistant coach with the Owen Sound Platers during Snyder's time with the team.

"I really thought he was going to pull out of this thing," O'Leary said in a late-night telephone interview with the Owen Sound Sun-Times on Sunday. "I know the family was optimistic. I know he was in a medically induced coma. I know his vital signs were good. I don't know what happened but as far as everybody knew, everything was progressing well."

Los Angeles Kings forward Sean Avery played three years with Snyder in Owen Sound.

"He was such a strong guy, such a fighter," Avery said. "I figured he would battle though this like he did everything else. I never, ever thought this would happen."

"It's a sad day for everyone in hockey and it's terrible news, really terrible news," said forward Tie Domi of the Toronto Maple Leafs. "I can't believe it."

Police said Heatley was driving his Ferrari at about 130 km/h on a narrow two-lane road last Monday night when he lost control, spun off the road and smashed into a brick and wrought iron fence.

The car split in half. The players were thrown into the road.

Heatley already was facing several charges, including a felony.

"The charges will be upgraded. It hasn't occurred yet," Sgt. John Quigley, an Atlanta Police Department spokesman said Sunday night. "I expect them to be upgraded in the near future."

"It would likely be vehicular homicide first degree," Quigley said.

That charge carries a prison sentence of three to 15 years. A plea bargain to the lesser charge of second-degree vehicular homicide, a misdemeanor, is also possible.

 

 

 

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