Man finally apologizes for Hurley crash

More than 18 years have passed since a Sacramento house painter crashed his station wagon into Bobby Hurley's truck, nearly killing the then-Kings' rookie point guard, and Hurley said he had never received an apology from the driver, Daniel Wieland.

He has one now.

"I'd like to send my heartfelt apologies and respect to Bobby Hurley," Wieland said by phone Thursday. "I really felt very badly for what happened to him, and it's been more of a burden on my back than anybody knows."

On the night of Dec. 12, 1993, Wieland was driving his 1970 Buick station wagon without his headlights on when he plowed into the Toyota 4Runner driven by Hurley, who was returning home from a game at Arco Arena.

Hurley wasn't wearing a seat belt, and he was broadsided while making a left turn and ejected from the vehicle.

He landed in a drainage ditch and suffered a severed trachea, two collapsed lungs, a fractured left shoulder blade, five broken ribs, a small compression fracture in his back, a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, a fractured right fibula and a sprained wrist.

One surgeon said Hurley's injuries would have killed 99 out of 100 victims. The Kings' lottery pick and former All-American at Duke and St. Anthony of Jersey City, N.J., returned to the NBA the following season, but was a physically diminished player. He was out of the league by 1998.

"I've kind of let it go," said Hurley, now a Wagner College assistant to his brother, Danny. "People make mistakes in life, and with (Wieland), I think it was just carelessness not having his lights on. I don't think there was intent to harm someone. He never apologized, but I don't lose moments in my life to why he didn't or why he wouldn't."

Wieland, 55, said that he suffered a shattered femur in the accident, and that he was found covered in gray-blue paint after the cans in his station wagon exploded on impact.

Wieland's first trial ended in a hung jury before he was convicted in a February 1995 retrial on a misdemeanor reckless driving charge. He was sentenced to three years' probation and ordered to pay a $300 fine.

"I have no memory at all of driving that road that night," Wieland said. "I can't see how I was driving without my headlights on, but that's what was proven. It hurt me in a lot of ways, and not just physically. My customers read the papers, too, and a lot of them dropped off quick.

"At the trial I couldn't even get (Hurley) to look at me, and I just felt badly about it. I'm glad to hear he's doing well and that the accident didn't completely take the wind out of his sails."

Ian O'Connor is a columnist for ESPNNewYork.com.