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  • Monday, October 20, 1997

    Gnida pleads guilty to suspended license charge

     BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- The chauffeur of the limousine that crashed while carrying a party of Detroit Red Wings pleaded guilty Monday to driving with a suspended license.
     The accident disabled defenseman Vladimir Konstantinov and team masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov with serious brain injuries.
     Richard Gnida entered the plea Monday before 48th District Judge Kimberly F. Small.
     A tentative sentencing date was set for Nov. 3. The charge carries a penalty of up to a year in prison and or a $500 fine. It was a second offense for 28-year-old Gnida.
     Although blood tests found evidence of marijuana in Gnida's blood, Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca said the level was too low to determine if the drug was a contributing factor in the accident.
     Gnida has denied smoking marijuana the night of the June 13 accident.
     The accident happened as the party was returning from a team golf outing. The Red Wings had won the Stanley Cup by completing a sweep four nights earlier of the Philadelphia Flyers.
     Konstantinov and Mnatsakanov remain in Royal Oak's William Beaumont Hospital, where they are listed in good condition.
     "These are two very hardworking patients who are improving in small increments," Dr. Sherry Viola, a rehabilitation specialist at Beaumont, said Monday.
     Both spend four hours a day in rehabilitation, but hospital officials say Konstantinov still can't communicate other than by using hand signals and gestures.
     Konstantinov does recognize friends and family, the hospital said. He is able to groom himself with the help of rehabilitation staff and family members.
     Mnatsakanov is able to speak, mostly in Russian. He is alert and his memory is improving, the hospital said. He can use his right arm, but his left arm is "severely impaired" because of his brain injury, it said.
     Mnatsakanov cannot use his legs.
     Gnida and defenseman Vyacheslav Fetisov sustained less-serious injuries in the accident.
     On Oct. 2, Birmingham police issued Gnida a ticket for careless driving after determining he was at fault for the accident. That charge is a civil infraction, the same as the ticket for moving violations that most motorists receive.


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