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Rats injured in bus crash UPDATE 12

By Phil Janack
Thursday, February 19, 2009

I have known John Hennessy for nearly 20 years, since he was the original radio voice of the River Rats in their 1993-94 debut season.

Jovial and outgoing, Henny and I have had several postgame "conferences" following Rats games, which continued after he returned to the team this season to do color commentary with rising play-by-play star Owen Newkirk.

Henny was the New Jersey Devils radio play-by-play man for a few years, even calling the 2003 Stanley Cup championship. He was kind enough to allow me to chat with him briefly this evening, about his health and the early morning bus crash that has hospitalized he and four Rats players -- Casey Borer, Nicolas Blanchard, Jonathan Paiement and Joe Jensen -- at the Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, Mass.

"They just gave me a little morphine to mellow me out a little bit," Hennessy said. "I've got a big collar on and I can't move around too much but it's good because Casey Borer is right next to me and we can talk to each other through the curtain. He's cracking me up."

Hennessy needed staples to close a wound on his head and was scheduled to have an MRI exam of his head on Friday to check internal bleeding. His wife, Adrian Lee, drove up from their home in New Jersey this morning to be with him.

"He can move and everything and, mentally, he's all there," she said. "I just watched the news a little while ago and saw the bus. It could have been a lot worse."

Hennessy recalled details of the accident.

"We fishtailed a little bit and went right, and then we went left," he said. "I just remember a huge impact, and I flew through the air. The next thing I remember were bodies on top of each other everywhere. I was crawling through the snow bleeding profusely, and another bus went by and just missed our bus. I remember yelling, 'Get off the bus. Get off the bus.'

"I walked 50 yards or so and sat on the guardrail. Petro (Forward Jakub Petruzalek) came up to me first. I was bleeding bad from the head, and they gave me direct pressure. A passerby stopped, he said he was an off-duty state trooper, which was really nice. I was freezing. I only had my (sports) jacket on and the impact knocked off one of my shoes."

Hennessy said the original bus broke down at 10:23 p.m. on the exit ramp from I-495 to 290 near a Best Western hotel in Shrewsbury, Mass. He said the bus gave out again near Boylston, Mass., where the team waited in a Citgo station parking lot for a replacement.

The second bus, which left for Albany shortly after 2 a.m., was the one that crashed. Massachusetts State Police said the accident happened at 3:25 a.m., due to wintry conditions.

 
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