Giants punter unhurt in hydroplaning crash on NJ Turnpike
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Rattled but mostly unhurt, New York Giants punter Steve Weatherford said he’s just happy to be alive after totaling a rented car on the New Jersey Turnpike early Monday as he tried to return home for practice from watching the birth of a daughter in California.
He flew east from his offseason home in San Diego on Sunday night after welcoming the 10 1/2-pound baby — his fourth child — but was diverted from Newark to Washington because of thunderstorms pelting the East Coast. He landed too late to catch a train north, so rented a car for the four-hour drive.
Weatherford posted a picture of the mangled car on Instagram after the 3:30 a.m. crash (http://bit.ly/1AFSikk ), saying it wrecked as he hit “a massive body of water” going about 70 mph.
“I hydroplane, slam into the median, get blasted in the face by the air bags,” Weatherford said. “My rental is totaled and I walked out without a scratch.”
Less than 2 minutes after he left the car, another car going 65 mph to 70 mph slid out of control in the same spot and hit his rental.
“I had put my blinkers on and had gotten out of the car and I was just getting ready to call 911,” he said. “Before I could call I looked behind me and heard the splash.”
Weatherford roused the unconscious, bloody driver, then helped him out of the car where they waited for New Jersey State Police.
“There was a lot of adrenaline pumping through my veins,” he said. “It probably helped that I was 225 pounds and motivated.”
New Jersey state troopers eventually drove him 45 miles home to Hoboken.
New Jersey State Police said on Facebook: “Two words about Steve: Class act. Also, congratulations! Best of luck with your family’s new addition!”
The player showed up later at his team’s workout with only minor facial cuts and burns, participating after missing three previous voluntary offseason team activities while waiting for the daughter to be born. He reported only some slight soreness after practicing.
“The first thing that popped into my mind was how he rushed to get back here,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “He’d been home for quite a while and was anxious and we shared the fact that it was a difficult thing to leave your wife and newborn. But he wanted to get back here and on the field.”
Weatherford said he didn’t want to worry his wife and contemplated not revealing the accident when she called 50 minutes after the crash, but disclosed it and said he was OK.
“She made me get off the phone and onto Facetime right away so she could see my face,” said Weatherford, who spoke with a small bandage on the left side of his lower lip. “I tried to cover up my lip.”
NOTES: The Giants said it would use walk-through metal detectors for security screenings this season, in line with new NFL regulations. … Wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. fielded one punt during practice, but largely stayed out of drills with a sore left hamstring. Coughlin said it was precautionary. … Third-year safety Cooper Taylor, who sat out last season with broken left foot, ran with second-round rookie Landon Collins on the first unit defense while projected starter Nat Berhe nursed a strained calf.
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