Olympic Medalist Eric Namesnik Dies from Injuries Suffered in Car Accident

By Phillip Whitten

January 11. TWO-TIME Olympian and former University of Michigan great Eric Namesnik was pronounced brain dead at 3 a.m. Eastern time today at St. Joseph's Mercy Hospital in Ypsilanti. According to the CarePage Web site set up through the hospital, Namesnik's heart stopped beating at 10 a.m.

It was learned last night, after a brain scan revealed a complete lack of brain activity, that there was no hope that the popular young coach and father of two would recover. That's when Eric's family made the decision to take him off life support after his organs were prepared for donation.

Namesnik, known to his friends as "Snik," won silver medals in the 400 meters individual medley at both the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona and the '96 Games in Atlanta. In Atlanta, he and his Michigan teammate, Tom Dolan, waged a titanic battle, before Dolan touched a scant 35-hundredths of a second ahead of Snik.

“The loss of Eric Namesnik is shocking for the entire swimming community,” said Chuck Wielgus, USA Swimming Executive Director. “Snik represented everything great about the Olympic movement. His work ethic, toughness and dedication were the embodiment of an Olympian, and they made him one of the most admired competitors the sport of swimming has seen. It is devastating to lose such an important member of the Olympic family. His legacy will live on through his contributions to the sport as an athlete, coach and volunteer.

“The swimming community is a tight-knit group, and is rallying around Eric’s family to support them during this difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Namesnik family.”

Eric was critically injured in an auto accident last Saturday morning, when his car spun out of control after hitting an icy patch. His car crossed the median and was struck by another vehicle, wedging him into his car. It took rescuers two hours to extricate him from the vehicle.

Snik was rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital, where physicians said he had suffered severe brain injuries and two punctured lungs. Though friends and family hoped for the best, he never regained any function.

Eric was surrounded by family members, coach and mentor Jon Urbanchek, and a number of his former Michigan and Olympic teammates, when the announcement that he had passed away was made this morning.

Funeral arrangements are pending. We will convey the details as soon as they are known.