Former Colorado QB in critical condition after accident

Updated: October 21, 2003, 8:14 PM ET

DENVER -- Former Colorado quarterback John Hessler was in a coma Tuesday after a weekend hit-and-run accident.

Hessler, 29, who had a collapsed lung and a major head injury, was in critical condition at an undisclosed hospital, school officials said. So many well-wishers called to check on his condition that relatives set up an update line where they could also leave messages.

Hessler was driving on Interstate 76 in north Denver on Sunday when his car was clipped from behind by a Chevrolet sport-utility vehicle, sending his car across the highway and into an oncoming pickup truck.

The driver of that vehicle, William Becker, 51, of Denver, was seriously injured.

The two people in the SUV fled after the crash and were being sought, State Trooper Ron Watkins said.

Hessler led Colorado to a 29-21 victory over No. 3 Texas A&M in 1995 after replacing an injured Koy Detmer. He followed that up with a 38-17 win over Oklahoma, setting a school record with five touchdown passes.

Hessler started the rest of the 1995 season as well as the entire 1997 season after Detmer graduated.

He was also a relief pitcher for the Colorado Rockies farm team in Tucson in 1998. He was 4-0 with a 4.50 ERA in 16 games, with one save. He retired from baseball before spring training in 1999.

Hessler is a middle school teacher and junior varsity football in Colorado.

His family said they are grateful for the support they have received.

"Knowing that John has so many wonderful friends who are sending their love his way continues to help us in this difficult time," Hessler's parents, June and Keith Hessler, and three siblings said in a written statement.

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index