Flash! Olympian Eric Namesnik in Critical Condition Following Auto Accident (Updated)

By Phillip Whitten

ANN ARBOR, Mich., January 9. TWO-TIME Olympian Eric Namesnik, head coach of the Wolverine Aquatics Swim Club and one of the best young coaches in the US, remains in St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ypsilanti, Michigan, in critical condition and fighting for his life following an automobile accident Saturday morning caused by icy road conditions.

“There has been a tremendous outpouring of love and support for Eric from around the world since yesterday,” said his longtime coach and mentor, Jon Urbanchek.

Urbanchek spent 20 minutes talking with Snik, who lies in a medically induced coma in an effort to reduce the swelling around his brain. Only family members and Urbanchek are permitted to see Namesnik.

The swelling increased yesterday, forcing surgeons to drill holes in Namesnik’s skull to relieve the pressure. Since then the pressure has remained steady. Namesnik’s physicians expect to keep him in a comatose condition for three or four days. “If all goes well and we can reduce the pressure, it will take about a week for him to become stabilized,” Urbanchek quoted one of the physicians as saying. “Then we’ll be able to make a prognosis.”

“Snik’s a fighter,” said Urbanchek. “He’s always come through for me in the past and I know he’s going to come through again this time.”

Late last night, Mark Henderson, Chairman of the Athletes' Commission of the US Olympic Committee and a 1996 Olympic teammate of Namesnik's, issued the following statement on behalf of a group of Namesnik's friends:

"We recently learned that Eric Namesnik was in a terrible car crash early Saturday morning (January 7th). For a period of about 2 hours yesterday morning there was black ice all over southern Michigan, resulting in numerous car accidents.

"Although we are not on the scene to give you first hand details, we have talked with Kirsten (Snik's wife) and she gave us the following update as of 1 pm EST on Sunday, January 8th.

"During the crash, Snik suffered severe injuries to his brain, resulting in bleeding inside his brain. At this point, the swelling that occurred in his brain has come down a little. He doesn't seem to really have any major bodily injuries (outside of some scratches to his knuckles and his forehead, and a possible broken shoulder bone). Physically, he looks ok. His situation has not improved much since arriving at the hospital (St. Joseph's in Ypsilanti) but it has not gotten worse either.

"The doctors anticipate that he will remain in his current state for at least a week. Right now he is stable. His heart is beating on its own and although he's breathing on his own, he is connected to a breathing machine. With the breathing machine, he's getting all the oxygen to his lungs that he needs."

Apparently, the initial report that Namesnik's lungs had been punctured was in error.

Namesnik is married to Kirsten Namesnik, a statistician at the University of Michigan. The couple has two children: Austin, 5, and Madison, 2.

Family members again asked the world swimming community to keep Eric in their prayers.

Well-wishers can send card and letters to Namesnik at:
8778 Sydney Dr.
Saline, MI 48176

Or e-mails to: snik@umich.edu

Previous Report:
ANN ARBOR, January 8. US OLYMPIAN and former University of Michigan great Eric Namesnik, 35, was seriously injured in an automobile accident in Michigan yesterday morning while returning home after coaching a morning workout.

According to physicians, he is in critical but stable condition and is fighting for his life.

Namesnik, who suffered two punctured lungs and massive head injuries, is currently in a medically-induced coma after surgeons drilled a hole in his skull to relieve the pressure on his brain.

According to unofficial sources, Namesnik was passing another car on an icy Michigan road at about nine o'clock yesterday morning, when he hit a patch of black ice. The car spun sideways, out of control, and crossed the median, where it was t-boned by another car. The condition of the driver of that car is not known.

One of the most popular members of the US national team, "Snik" won silver medals in the 400 IM in Barcelona in 1992 behind Hungary's Tamas Darnyi and again in Atlanta in '96, after a titanic battle with Michigan teammate and rival, Tom Dolan.

Family members asked the swimming community to pray for Eric’s recovery.

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