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'I'm going to miss him forever'

Hockey star addresses loss of teammate in crash

Associated Press

ATLANTA -- The remorse Dany Heatley felt was evident before he even spoke a word.

The Thrashers' All-Star talked publicly Friday for the first time since the car wreck that killed teammate and friend Dan Snyder, a crash that left Heatley with a broken jaw and torn knee ligaments.

He haltingly got through an opening statement, during which he thanked everyone -- especially the Snyder family -- for their support. He sat by himself on a small platform during a news conference in the club level at Philips Arena, about three hours before his team faced the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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"I just want to say I'm very sorry for the loss of my friend and teammate," Heatley began, his eyes moist with tears. "I'm going to miss him forever."

The investigation into the Sept. 29 wreck in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood isn't finished yet. After Snyder died six days later from head injuries, Heatley was charged with vehicular homicide. Test results showed he consumed a small amount of alcohol before the crash, with his blood alcohol content less than 0.015 percent, far below the state's legal limit of 0.08 percent.

Because Heatley wasn't drunk, and Snyder's relatives said they forgave him, prosecutors could decide the car crash was just an accident, with no need to pursue felony charges and sentences ranging from three to 15 years.

"I want to thank the Snyder family for their support," Heatley said. "It's been amazing. They have just been unbelievable, giving me a lot of strength."

Police initially said Heatley was driving his Ferrari at about 80 mph on a narrow two-lane road when he lost control, spun off the road and smashed into a brick and wrought iron fence.

Heatley and his lawyer, Ed Garland, declined to comment on any specifics of the crash, but Garland said he expects a decision in 30-45 days on whether the Fulton County district attorney's office will move forward with the case.

Earlier this week, Heatley returned to the ice for the first time since the wreck, skating for about 10 minutes by himself at the team's headquarters in suburban Atlanta. He's repeated the workout twice more, including earlier Friday.

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