Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who led the team to the 2006 Super Bowl championship, was seriously injured in a motorcycle crash Monday in Pittsburgh with a car displaying Maine license plates.

Roethlisberger broke his jaw and nose, received a 9-inch laceration to the back of his head and had several teeth knocked out, according to ESPN. The network also reported that the quarterback suffered unspecified injuries to his knees.

The driver of the silver Chrysler New Yorker was identified as Martha Fleishman, 62, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Her husband, Martin, spoke to the Post-Gazette and confirmed that his wife was driving. Other than to wish Roethlisberger well, Martin Fleishman had no further statement.

According to Sun Journal archives, Martin and Martha Fleishman lived in the Farmington area in the late 1980s.

When the Sun Journal called his Pittsburgh home Monday night, Martin Fleishman refused to confirm or deny that he used to live in the Farmington area.

“We’re doing OK, and thankful that Mr. Roethlisberger sounds like he is improving,” Martin Fleishman said. “We hope all the best for him. We hope he has a quick and speedy recovery.”

Four doctors operated on Roethlisberger for seven hours to treat multiple facial fractures and, “All of the fractures were successfully repaired,” Dr. Harry W. Sell, chairman of the surgery department at Mercy Hospital, told reporters late Monday night.

Dr. Daniel Pituch, who led the team, said Roethlisberger was in serious but stable condition, and doctors were aware of no other serious injuries.

“His brain, spine, chest and abdomen appear to be without serious injury and there are no other confirmed injuries at this time,” he said.

Roethlisberger was on his black 2005 Suzuki Hayabusa – the company calls it the world’s fastest bike for legal street riding – and heading toward an intersection on the edge of downtown. A Chrysler New Yorker traveling in the opposite direction took a left turn and collided with the motorcycle, and Roethlisberger was thrown, police said.

He was not wearing a helmet, police said.

No charges have been filed.

A statement on the Steelers’ Web site by team president Art Rooney II said the club was “encouraged by the early reports from the medical team.”

While his injuries are serious, Roethlisberger could be ready to play by the start of the season, according to local medical experts.

“It doesn’t sound like they think that it could end his season,” said Dr. Steven C Bonawitz, of Lewiston, a plastic surgeon with training and experience in facial trauma management. “There will be some discomfort, especially from physical activity.

“Once the fracture is repaired, it heals pretty well.”

If the injury is a simple broken jaw, Bonawitz said Roethlisberger could return to light activity as soon as a week, once the swelling and discomfort subsides.

Dr. Paul R. Cain, who specializes in sports medicine for Central Maine Orthopaedics, P.A., says total recovery could take from six weeks to three months, depending on the severity of the injury. He says he has treated a couple of hockey players for the Lewiston Maineiacs for broken jaws, and they returned to action in a short time.

Both doctors were more worried about the undisclosed injury to his knees.

With Roethlisberger’s jaw likely to be wired shut, Bonawitz said eating and maintaining his weight could be a struggle.

“You can’t chew,” Bonawitz said. “It could be as long as six to eight weeks before you can chew. In that situation, it’s hard for people not to lose weight.”

Accident victims like Roethlisberger often also suffer concussions, Bonawitz said. No head injuries have been reported, except the broken bones and laceration.

Without setbacks, Bonawitz believes Roethlisberger could be ready by the start of the season in September.

“He’s really pretty good to go by that point,” he said. “He’s a healthy guy. Guys like him heal pretty well.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.