NEW ORLEANS -- Chad Jones, a two-sport star at LSU who was drafted by the New York Giants, underwent surgery for a broken left leg and ankle Friday following a dawn wreck in which his SUV smashed into a pole.
"The surgery was successful," said Jones' father, Al, after emerging from the hospital on Friday evening. "The rehab is going to take a while."
Jones was in surgery at LSU Public Hospital from midmorning until late afternoon. His father said the major concern related to improving blood flow around the ankle and that it appeared doctors were able to address that.
"Chad got this far. God brought him this far. He's not going to leave him alone," Al Jones said. "Chad is a fighter. That's why he's at this point and stage in his life and he's going to continue to fight. ... One way or another, Chad's going to be just fine."
It was not clear what caused Jones, 21, to lose control of his vehicle at about 6 a.m. on a six-lane thoroughfare with a streetcar line on the west side of the city, police spokeswoman Shereese Harper said.
Jones was extracted from the SUV, but the two other men riding with him were fine, Harper said. She said it was too early in the investigation to know if Jones was speeding, and police will run toxicology reports to see if alcohol was a factor. Jones was cited for careless operation of a vehicle.
Jones' agent, Rocky Arceneaux, said Jones was alert when taken to the hospital.
Arceneaux said he spoke to the passengers, who said Jones was in the far left lane and turned the wheel abruptly to get his tires off the streetcar tracks grooves. The vehicle then rolled into a pole that carries an overhead electrical wire powering the streetcar line.
The concrete base of the pole was cracked and broken. The pole was scuffed but remained standing, and the streetcar line reopened when the site was cleared.
The driver's side of the SUV appeared to have been violently compressed, according to people who saw the wreckage before it was removed.
"It was so crushed in," said Liz Lapre, who works across the street from the accident site at a store selling recreational gear. "I kept looking at it like, 'Did they make it? Did they survive?'"
Bobby Johnson, the store's co-owner, took a photo of the wreckage, unaware at the time the vehicle belonged to Jones.
"I took a picture just because you don't see a car every day that bashed up," he said. "The whole driver's side was caved in."
Giants spokesman Pat Hanlon issued a statement from the team late Friday afternoon.
"We continue to gather information on Chad's condition, and obviously our primary concern is for his health and well being," the team said. "Jerry Reese and his staff have maintained contact with Chad's family throughout the day."
Jones, a heavy-hitting, play-making safety with the Tigers, was drafted in the third round. He was part of the Tigers' 2007 national championship team and was also a left-handed relief pitcher -- whose fastball surpassed 90 mph -- for the LSU baseball team that won the 2009 College World Series. Known affectionately as "Dreadlocks of Doom" by teammates and LSU fans, he was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers weeks after the Giants selected him in the NFL draft. He signed with the Giants last week after taking part in a mandatory minicamp.
Jones' parents were in Dallas when they were notified of the wreck Friday morning and drove all day to reach the hospital in the evening.
During the nearly eight-hour drive, they received numerous calls and text messages from friends and relatives offering their support.
"I just want to thank everybody that reached out to us and prayed for us," Al Jones said. "It made the ride a little easier. It really did."
Al Jones said his son was still heavily sedated but opened his eyes when he heard his mother's voice and was aware of his parents' presence.
More than a dozen people had gathered at the hospital to see Jones. Most declined comment and reporters were asked to stay off of hospital property.
"As I was getting calls about the accident from teammates and seeing the images of his vehicle, it was getting a little hard for me to cope with it because Chad's like my little brother," Favorite said. "His family and our family, we've been knowing each other since we were in high school. ... On the field and off the field, he's just a great kid."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.