Wednesday, August 13, 2003 Updated: August 15, 6:54 PM ET
Whirlwind days in Minnesota may have taken toll
MINNEAPOLIS -- The men who golfed with Herb Brooks on Monday
morning, just hours before his death in a single-vehicle accident,
say they won't be surprised if authorities conclude that Brooks
fell asleep before his minivan crashed.
Hockey sticks in the form of a cross and a University of Minnesota cap mark the site of Herb Brooks' fatal crash.
Meanwhile, a preliminary check of the van driven by Herb
Brooks showed no mechanical problems, the state Department of
Public Safety said Wednesday.
"The prevailing thought is that in the cursory look that
everything looked OK with the vehicle," Public Safety spokesman
Kevin Smith said.
Brooks was in the state last weekend for a celebrity golf
tournament where he attended two fund-raisers, played 29 holes of
golf in two rounds and stayed up late two nights socializing with
friends. All before he took off in his minivan about noon Monday
for the 190-mile drive to the Twin Cities to catch a plane to Chicago.
Brooks didn't make it, veering off the road near Forest Lake just 25 miles north of the Twin Cities.
"It's only speculation, but I think he was tired," said John
Mayasich, a 1956 and 1960 Olympian and Gophers hockey legend who
had Brooks at his cabin over the weekend. They golfed together Monday.
Mayasich and others who were with Brooks during his last two
days said he spent that time supporting his beloved sport of hockey
in a whirlwind fashion that was typical of him, but at a pace that
would fatigue men half of his 66 years.
"I'm sure that, like everybody, he was tired because he ran
around so much and he was out playing golf in the hot sun," said
Tom Micheletti, chairman of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame's board of
On Saturday, Brooks attended a fund-raiser for the Eveleth
Hippodrome. Later that night, he stayed up for a few hours and had
a couple of beers with some friends.
Brooks and others went to brunch Sunday morning, played 18 holes
of golf that afternoon and then went to a dinner and silent auction
to benefit the Hockey Hall of Fame. That night, Brooks and friends
went for pizza about 9:30 p.m. and then reminisced for a couple of hours.
On Monday morning, they returned to the golf course for a celebrity
tournament to benefit the Hockey Hall of Fame. After 11 holes,
Brooks left at about 11:50 a.m., saying he had to catch a plane.
If Brooks did doze off while driving, investigators may never be
able to prove it because he was alone in the van, said State Patrol
Lt. Chuck Walerius.
Public safety spokesman Smith said investigators were preparing an administrative
subpoena to get Brooks' cell phone records. They want to know if he
was on the phone when he veered off Interstate 35.
Smith said it appears Brooks was not speeding when the crash
Experts in accident reconstruction visited the crash scene
Wednesday morning, but most of the rest of the investigation will
happen in the office, Smith said. He expects it will be at least
one or two weeks before investigators are able to say why Brooks
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.
The report is preliminary, but the State Patrol said there are
no indications that Brooks suffered any health problems or that he
was traveling above the 70 mph speed limit before the crash.
Walerius said it appears that Brooks could have survived if he
had been wearing a seat belt.
"You don't know what the extent of the injuries would have
been, so it's tough to tell," Walerius said. "But I can say that
there was room to live in that van. Would he have survived?
Law enforcement officials said they hope to know within a couple
of weeks what caused Brooks' minivan to spin out of control on the
"There is a lot to be done," Department of Public Safety spokesman Kevin Smith said.
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," he said. "They will try to figure out speed; they'll look through the vehicle."
A cell phone was in the minivan, but Brooks wasn't talking on it at the time of the crash, Smith added.
An early check showed nothing mechanically wrong with the van driven by Brooks, Smith said Wednesday.
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 pre-existing health problems, and there were no
signs to indicate that alcohol was a factor in the crash.
"We came up to the body and saw he was still breathing at the
time," said John Seeger, who was driving a few hundred yards
behind Brooks' car when it veered off the road. Seeger told KSTP-TV
that Brooks was unconscious the entire time.
"You felt helpless, you really did," Seeger said. "But in the
same sense, you wanted to try and do anything and everything you
could for him."