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"Miracle on Ice" coach Brooks dies in car accident

The 1980 Miracle on Ice

Tuesday, August 12
Investigators still working on car crash
Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Friends and family arranged Herb Brooks' funeral Tuesday, while investigators tried to piece together the last minutes of his bigger-than-life life.

The 66-year-old hockey legend died Monday when his car veered off the road and flipped over.

A report from the Anoka County coroner's office said Brooks wasn't wearing a seat belt and died of multiple blunt-force chest and abdominal injuries when he was ejected from his minivan.

A wake will be from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday at the Cathedral of St. Paul, the fourth-largest cathedral in the country. Normally, the church holds 2,800 people, but if extra chairs are brought in, up to 4,000 people could fit under its copper dome.

A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday. Church officials planned to meet with Brooks' family Wednesday to discuss who would be invited and other details.

A memorial service also was being considered. Meanwhile, law enforcement officials said they hope to know within a couple of weeks what caused Brooks' minivan to spin out of control on the interstate north of the Twin Cities.

"There is a lot to be done," said Department of Public Safety spokesman Kevin Smith. Investigators began interviewing at least four witnesses Tuesday and experts in accident reconstruction were starting to piece together details, Smith said.

"Our reconstructionists spent a great deal of time at the scene yesterday," he said. "They will try to figure out speed; they'll look through the vehicle."

A cell phone was found in the minivan and investigators will try to determine whether Brooks was using it near the time of the crash and if so, who he talked with.

Police say the van veered right onto the grassy area, then rolled when Brooks apparently overcorrected his steering. He was found about 40 yards from the vehicle, dead at the scene. Police weren't aware of any preexisting health problems, and there were no signs to indicate that alcohol was a factor in the crash.

Brooks was best known for coaching a young American team of hockey players to one of the greatest upsets in history, beating the mighty Soviets in 1980 at the Lake Placid Olympics. His death stunned a state with a long hockey history and fans showed their respect Tuesday.

Hockey players at St. Cloud State, where Brooks coached during the 1986-87 season, have decided to have the initials "HB" put on their on their helmets for the upcoming season.

And by the early morning hours, a makeshift memorial had sprung up at the site of the wreck, with a hockey jersey and a cap dangling from the top of a wooden cross that was constructed out of hockey sticks. By noon, though, public officials had taken down the memorial, citing safety concerns. Smith said passers-by had been stopping and running across three lanes of traffic to look at the site.

The items left along the highway will be given to Brooks' family.