Roethlisberger Undergoes 7 Hours of Surgery After Crash

Ben Roethlisberger underwent seven hours of surgery after breaking his jaw and nose in a motorcycle crash and was in serious but stable condition.

The Pittsburgh Steelers standout, the youngest quarterback to lead a team to the Super Bowl championship, was taken to Pittsburgh's Mercy Hospital on Monday morning after the crash.

It was not immediately known whether the accident would affect Roethlisberger's chances of playing this season.

Dr. Harry W. Sell, chairman of the hospital's surgery department, told reporters that four doctors operated on Roethlisberger for multiple facial fractures and that "all of the fractures were successfully repaired."

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Doctors are unaware of any other serious injuries, but said Roethlisberger remained in serious but stable condition late Monday night, according to Dr. Daniel Pituch, who led the team of doctors caring for the star player.

"His brain, spine, chest and abdomen appear to be without serious injury and there are no other confirmed injuries at this time," he said.

Roethlisberger's condition was not expected to change through the night, and no updates were expected until Tuesday afternoon. Doctors declined to release further information, at his family's request.

The hospital's chief of trauma, Dr. Larry Jones, said earlier that Roethlisberger "was talking to me before he left for the operating room."

"He's coherent," Jones said. "He's making sense. He knows what happened. He knows where he is. From that standpoint, he's very stable."

Steelers coach Bill Cowher arrived Monday night at the hospital, where several of Roethlisberger's teammates, including defensive end Brett Keisel, had also gathered.

Team president Art Rooney II said the team was "encouraged by the early reports from the medical team" at the hospital.

"I am sure Ben knows that we are praying for his complete recovery," he said.

The 24-year-old Roethlisberger wasn't wearing a helmet, Pittsburgh police said. He has said he likes to ride without one, a habit that once prompted a lecture from Cowher.

Roethlisberger was on his black 2005 Suzuki Hayabusa traveling east on 2nd Avenue toward an intersection at the edge of downtown at about 11:10 a.m., police said. A silver Chrysler New Yorker traveling in the opposite direction took a left hand turn and collided with the motorcycle, and Roethlisberger was thrown from the bike, police said.

The other car was driven by a woman identified in published reports Tuesday as Martha Fleishman, 62, of Pittsburgh. The car was registered in Maine, where she has a summer home, police said. No charges were filed.

"She really feels terrible about the whole thing, and we certainly wish him a speedy recovery," said her husband, Martin Fleishman.

He declined to comment on his wife's condition, except to say, "She's doing as best as she can."

Sandra Ford, of Pittsburgh, was waiting at a bus stop nearby when she said she saw the motorcycle approach the intersection. Seconds later, she said she heard a crash, saw the cyclist in the air and ran toward the crash scene.

"He wasn't moving and I was afraid that he had died ... He wasn't really speaking. He seemed dazed, but he was resisting the effort to make him stay down," said Ford, who didn't realize the motorcyclist was Roethlisberger until she went home later and turned on the TV.

In only his second year in the NFL, Roethlisberger helped guide the Steelers to the Super Bowl title in February at age 23. Training camp for next season begins at the end of July.

Several teammates, including backup quarterback Charlie Batch, linebacker Joey Porter and safety Mike Logan, arrived at the hospital emergency room but did not comment. Roethlisberger's stepmother was crying as she arrived at the hospital Monday afternoon.

Roethlisberger has said in the past that he prefers not to wear a helmet when riding his motorcycle. He has pointed out Pennsylvania's state law requiring helmets to be worn was repealed in September 2003.

In May 2005, Cowher warned him about safe riding after Cleveland tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. was injured in a motorcycle accident. Winslow tore knee ligaments and was lost for the season.

"He talked about being a risk-taker and I'm not really a risk-taker. 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."

According to the Suzuki Web site, the Hayabusa is the fastest production bike made.

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."

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