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Rower Hurt in Auto Accident, Apparently Ending Olympic Bid

April 11, 1996

GAINESVILLE, Ga. (AP) _ An Olympic rower who had easily won his preliminary race at the U.S. Rowing Olympic Trials was injured in an automobile accident that apparently ended his bid to make this year’s team.

John Riley Jr., 32, of Boston was returning to his hotel Wednesday night after qualifying for the men’s single sculls semifinals today at Lake Lanier when his car was struck by an ambulance, said Terry Friel, U.S. Rowing promotions manager.

The accident fractured the bone between Riley’s left shoulder and neck, Friel said.

``The event physician (Tim Hosea) had the opportunity to go to the hospital and look at X-rays,″ Friel said. ``He indicated to my colleague that it was unlikely that John would be able to go on this week.″

Riley formally withdrew from the competition shortly after 11 p.m. Wednesday. He could not be reached for comment.

Ruth Clark, nursing supervisor at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, said Riley was treated for a fractured clavicle and released.

He had won the second heat of the men’s single sculls with a time of 7 minutes, 47.8 seconds and had been scheduled to compete in the semifinals this morning. Next up would have been a key race Friday morning and a shot at making the 1996 team.

Riley was an alternate for the U.S. rowing team in the 1988 Olympics and a member of the 1992 men’s quadruple sculls team, Friel said.

The Georgia State Patrol said the ambulance was taking a man to Northeast Georgia Medical Center when it struck Riley’s car. The ambulance’s emergency lights were on entering the intersection, but Riley told police that a truck pulling a trailer obstructed his view as he was turning left at a green light.

No charges were filed.

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