Arkansas head football Coach Bobby Petrino said he suffered four broken ribs to the upper chest and a cracked or broken vertebra after crashing his motorcycle on Highway 16 near the Crosses community in Madison County Sunday evening.
Wearing a neck brace, Petrino appeared before media at a Tuesday afternoon news conference at Reynolds Razorback Stadium to discuss his recovery.
He also had red, swollen cheeks and what appeared to be road rash on his nose and forehead. He was released from Physicians’ Specialty Hospital in Fayetteville around 11 a.m. Tuesday.
Petrino said he wasn't speeding on the curves of the two-lane highway, but that the sun and a gust of wind may be to blame for the accident.
"I didn’t feel like I was speeding," the 51-year-old coach said. "The last thing I remember was looking up at the sun and saying, ‘Oh, I’m going to have the sun in my eyes the whole way back.’ And then there was a gust of wind that came up. Whether that did it, I don’t know."
Petrino said he doesn't think he lost consciousness in the crash.
"I know when I was trying to get from the ground to my feet it was hard seeing, and I was definitely dinged a little bit,” he said.
Asked if he was given a blood-alcohol test after the accident, Petrino said, “I was given blood tests, but I absolutely had nothing to drink. I spent the day at the lake with my wife working. She works me hard when I’m up there. But I absolutely had no alcohol in my system.”
Petrino, who said he was alone on the motorcycle, said a woman at the scene flagged down someone who drove him part of the way to Fayetteville. He contacted Arkansas State Police Capt. Lance King of Troop L, who took him the rest of the way to the hospital, Petrino said. He said the motorists didn’t seem to recognize him. Petrino said he called a doctor who made medical arrangements.
"When I came out of the ditch, there was a lady there that had flagged down a car," Petrino said. "The guy that was in the passenger’s seat said, ‘Get in. We’ll just take you right to the hospital instead of waiting,’ and so I got in the car and they headed towards Fayetteville. In the meantime on my cell phone I had a call from Lance King, so we set up a place to meet, and then he brought me to the hospital. The first call I made was to Doctor Arnold, to tell him I needed to get to the emergency room. He was actually in Fort Smith, but made all the arrangements for my arrival.”
Petrino, known as a motorcycle enthusiast, said he wasn’t wearing a helmet at the time of the accident but that he would wear one in the future. He said he and his wife, Becky, had discussed helmets before he took off for a Sunday ride.
"The ironic thing is we were sitting there in the kitchen, Becky and I, and I had two helmets out, and I said, ‘This one’s going to be really heavy and hot, and this one makes me look like a cone head. I think I’ll just go with the hat.’ Obviously a bad call.”
Motorcyclists are not required by law to wearing a helmet in Arkansas.
Petrino said he is taking pain medication. He also said he expects the neck brace, which he said he is wearing because of the damage to his C2 vertebra, to come off in a week or two. He said he feels alert and is excited about the way Hog fans have shown their support over the weekend.
"I don’t think I have any brain damage," he joked, "but that’s yet to be seen. If I start not punting at all in the games or something, then we’ve got a problem. But I feel great. I feel really alert."
The coach's doctor cleared him to watch Tuesday afternoon's practice from the press box.
BIll Sadler, State Police spokesman, said the trooper investigating the accident has forwarded a preliminary report to his supervisor. The final report could be released in the couple of days, Sadler said.