PITTSBURGH (June 19, 2006) -- Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did not have a valid motorcycle license when he crashed into a woman's car, and the driver -- who will be cited for failing to yield -- has received threatening phone calls.
Roethlisberger will be issued $388 in fines and fees for riding without a license and not wearing a helmet, police Collision Investigator Dan Connolly said. Only licensed motorcyclists are allowed to ride bareheaded in Pennsylvania, with certain restrictions.
The Super Bowl champion quarterback rammed his Suzuki Hayabusa into a woman's Chrysler New Yorker on June 12 when she was making a left turn in front of him. Both had the green light.
Roethlisberger underwent seven hours of surgery to repair broken jaws and other facial bones. Tests showed no brain injuries, although he had a mild concussion; he also lost two teeth and chipped several others.
The woman, who will be cited for failing to yield to oncoming traffic, has received threatening phone calls since the accident, Police Chief Dominic Costa said. She filed a police report and the calls were being investigated.
Roethlisberger was traveling at the speed limit a posted 35 mph zone, but he braked and hit the car at a slower speed, he said, and there were no mechanical problems with either vehicle. Both will be sent summary citations.
To obtain a motorcycle license in Pennsylvania, riders must first get a learner's permit, which requires a $10 fee, a vision screening and a written test. The permit is valid for one year, during which a road test must be passed to obtain a full motorcycle license.
Only after two years of possessing a valid license is riding without a helmet allowed; that restriction is waived if the rider takes an approved safety course.
Police did not have any contact with Steelers officials during the investigation, Connolly said.
"This was no different than any other crash," Connolly said. "We found our determinations and determined that the parties needed to be cited and that's what we're doing."
In an interview with ESPN radio on June 19, coach Bill Cowher said there is no way of knowing what effect Roethlisberger's injuries would have his playing ability.
"That's the thing we have to be very sensitive to and we have to make sure that we monitor -- and we'll do that," Cowher said. "We'll work with the doctors. We'll talk to him."
He did not criticize Roethlisberger for not wearing a helmet, something he had done last year.
"I think it would be very unfair, and I think it's really irrelevant, to be judgmental about the accident itself," Cowher said.
"Sometimes with the lessons of life, you have to get knocked down before you get back up," Cowher said. "He's just very fortunate. This was one of those lessons that could have been devastating. It could have been a very tragic story."
Roethlisberger was discharged June 14 from Mercy Hospital and apologized to the team, his fans and family in a statement. He also said that he would wear a helmet if he rode motorcycle again.
Police odeclined to reveal the name of the driver of the car, citing the threats. She has been identified in published reports as Martha Fleishman, 62, of Pittsburgh. Her husband, Martin Fleishman, has said she felt terrible about the accident.