Basketball players suffer car accident

By Courtney Linehan

Commentary from author: As journalists, we’re supposed to check our biases and feelings at the door. But sometimes, that task is greater than expected. And that’s just how it was in the aftermath of the Feb. 12 car accident that left Brian Carlwell and Jamar Smith with concussions and Smith, the driver, charged with two drunk driving felonies – aggravated DUI and leaving the scene of a personal injury accident. Just hours before the crash, I was at basketball practice watching Smith shoot around and Carlwell be his happy-go-lucky self. In the days and weeks following the accident, countless details – too many to be talked about here – were revealed.

Reporting this story was more difficult than any other I have worked on in my time at the Daily Illini. Phone call after phone call was made to associate Athletic Director Kent Brown, University police, Carle Foundation Hospital and any other source fellow Daily Illini senior writer Courtney Linehan and I thought would lead us to more information. But in the end, we were and are still left with numerous questions. While some have questioned head coach Bruce Weber’s commitment to Smith and his decision to allow Smith to sit on the bench at the final home game at Assembly Hall, I see it as a show of support defining of who Weber is as a person.

Smith will be back in court on May 24. In Smith’s previous two court appearances, lawyer Mark Lipton asked for continuances.

Commentary by: Erin Foley

Originally Published on Feb. 15, republished May 7.

The basketball team took its latest blow on the night of Feb. 12 when the 1996 Lexus that Smith was driving north on South First Street spun 180-degrees, crossed the center line and struck a tree.

Smith drove the damaged car 1.5 miles from the site of the accident back to his apartment and both players were transported via ambulance to Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana for treatment.

Smith was treated and released; Carlwell was admitted in critical condition.