Panthers’ Newton out of hospital after Tuesday wreck

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was released from Carolinas Medical Center on Wednesday morning, less than 24 hours after he suffered two fractures in his back in a two-car crash at one of Charlotte’s most dangerous intersections.

According to family members and team officials, Newton was suffering from soreness, but doctors did not find any additional injuries beyond the fractured bones.

Team officials said Newton’s spirits were high, and they listed his playing availability as “day-to-day.”

The violent collision shortly after noon sent Newton’s black Dodge truck tumbling sideways across a bridge over Interstate 277 in uptown Charlotte. The truck came to rest on the passenger side, its roof flattened.

Newton, who had been headed to Bank of America Stadium a block away to study game film on a day off, appeared dazed after crawling out a shattered rear window.

Police released the collision report Wednesday morning, and neither Newton nor the other driver – Nestor Pellot Jr., of Fort Mill, S.C. – has been charged.

South Church and West Hill streets, where the accident happened, is becoming one of Charlotte’s most hazardous intersections.

The intersection ranked fourth this year on the city’s list of places where crashes are most likely to occur. It ranked eighth last year and 17th in 2012, records show.

As many as 15 motorists have been injured in wrecks there since 2009, records show.

A witness to Tuesday’s accident, Tony Douglas, said he was walking on Church Street when he saw a Buick sedan and Newton’s truck collide.

Douglas said the truck was heading south on Church and the sedan was crossing Church from Hill Street when they hit. Douglas said he ran to the truck and saw Newton inside.

Afterward, he said, Newton “was alert. He was in pain.”

Pellot’s 2013 Buick, which bore temporary Georgia license tags, stopped with heavy damage to its front-right side, with the hood buckled and bumper torn off.

Observer reporter Karen Sullivan, who was walking south on Church Street, said she saw the truck travel over the top of the sedan and become airborne for a short distance, rolling side over side when it landed.

The windows shattered before the truck came to rest, Sullivan said. Newton lifted himself out through the back window and staggered over to the side of the bridge, where he waited for medical help.

Newton, lying on a sidewalk in black workout clothes, was treated on the bridge for at least 20 minutes. He and Pellot were strapped to backboards and in neck braces before being loaded into ambulances.

The Panthers said the fourth-year quarterback fractured two bones in his lower back called transverse processes, bony protrusions from the back of a vertebrae bone in the spine.

The injury does not typically result in long-term injury, a sports doctor said, but pain must be managed for up to a month.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo fractured two transverse processes in his back in an Oct. 27 game against Washington, according to media reports, and missed the team’s next game.

Panthers officials wouldn’t comment on Newton’s football status but were privately doubtful he could play in Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay. The Panthers said Newton will stay in Carolinas Medical Center overnight for observation but had no other internal or apparent head injuries.

They expressed relief that Newton hadn’t been more badly hurt considering the heavy damage to his truck.

Panthers owner Jerry Richardson told an Observer reporter at the hospital Tuesday afternoon that he had spoken to Newton’s doctors but had not seen the player himself. “He’s in good shape,” Richardson said.

Eyewitness accounts differed on the speed of the vehicles involved and the collision’s apparent cause.

Newton has been charged with one traffic violation in his four years as a Panther, for traveling 57 mph in a 35-mph zone in 2012. That charge was waived by the Mecklenburg County Clerk of Courts office after Newton paid a fine and court costs.

As a college athlete in Florida in 2007 and 2008, Newton was cited for multiple traffic violations. Newton paid fines in many of those cases, records show.

Police said they needed more time to release the identity of the other driver, so his driving record isn’t known.

The Panthers drafted Newton No. 1 overall in the 2011 NFL draft. Panthers coaches and front office executives have referred to Newton as their franchise quarterback.

In his fourth season, Newton has the Panthers (4-8-1) a half-game out of first place in the NFC South. Newton has twice gone to the Pro Bowl, and he’s in the final year of his rookie deal. He will make $14.667 million next season with the Panthers, who picked up his fifth-year option in the spring.

Staff writers Michael Gordon, Jonathan Jones, Joe Marusak, Doug Miller, Joe Person, Ely Portillo and Todd Sumlin contributed.

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