Denver Nuggets' J.R. Smith Cited in Fatal Accident
By: Mike Stetzer
J.R. Smith of the Denver Nuggets has never been accused of being a great driver, but calling him a bad driver would be an understatement.
After an accident in Millstone Township, New Jersey on June 9, 2007 which left him injured and his good friend dead, investigators are looking closely at Smith. More charges could be filed against him as a result of the fatal accident. He has already been cited for improper passing and failure to stop at a stop sign.
Smith, 21, was driving his 2003 GMC Yukon and his friend Andre Bell, also 21, was in the passenger seat. Neither man was wearing a seat belt when Smith ran the stop sign and crashed into a Jaguar. Smith and Bell were both thrown from the sport utility vehicle when it flipped over.
Bell was airlifted to Jersey Shore University Hospital for treatment immediately following the wreck. He suffered severe head injuries and fell into a coma. He later died as a result of the trauma. Smith was taken to the hospital in an ambulance and was treated for minor scratches and an injury to his left shoulder. He has been released from the hospital. Two other passengers in Smith's vehicle and the driver of the Jaguar suffered minor injuries and were also treated at the hospital.
So far Smith has not been charged with charged with DUI. It is not known yet whether alcohol or drugs could have played a part in the accident but the investigation continues. Investigators are reportedly interested in reviewing the results of a toxicology report on Smith. When this report is available they will review it and decide if additional charges in addition to the traffic violations will be filed. Bell's death changes the way the prosecutor may view the case, according to the state police spokesman.
Smith's injuries were not severe enough to jeopardize his career; however, if more serious charges are filed against him in connection with this accident it could affect all aspects of this young man's life. While it remains to be seen whether drugs or alcohol were a factor in his misjudgment that caused this traffic accident, the fact is that his mistake cost a good friend his life. That has got to weigh heavily on Smith's mind as he recuperates.
Smith is no stranger to traffic citations. It has been reported that his driver's license has been suspended 5 times in less than a year. He has been previously charged with 8 different violations on 7 different dates between April 22, 2005 and January 10, 2006. He did have a valid driver's license at the time of the accident. He had paid all fines and fees to restore his driving privileges. It seems that none of his tickets carried a heavy enough penalty to make him consider the dangers of careless driving habits. Sadly, these most recent violations come with a serious lesson and quite possibly even more serious consequences.