Ken Green's friends cautiously optimistic about his recovery

DANBURY -- Friends of professional golfer Ken Green are cautiously optimistic that doctors can save his leg following a serious motor vehicle accident on Monday.

Green, 50, a former Danbury resident, was involved in a recreational vehicle crash Monday in Mississippi that took the life of his brother,
William Green
, 56, also a former city resident; Ken Green's girlfriend, Jeannie Hodgin , 52, of Greensboro, N.C.; and Nip, the golfer's 6-year-old German shepherd.

Jack Garamella , Green's Danbury attorney and longtime friend, said Wednesday that Green "is much more alert today and is very depressed and unhappy. He's talking a lot about the loss of his brother and girlfriend."

Garamella said Green, who won five PGA tournaments during his career, suffered an "open distal tibia fracture" of his right leg and a suborbital fracture of his left eye.

Doctors had initially feared Green's leg would have to be amputated, but they now hold out hope they will be able to save the leg.

"We'd like to think that Ken has turned a corner," Garamella said. "What happens next remains to be seen."

Friends said Ken Green is disputing a police report that says he was driving the RV at the time of the accident Monday when the front right tire blew out, causing the vehicle to swerve off Interstate 20, down an embankment and into a large tree.

"It's my belief that Billy was driving," Garamella said, adding that Green's manager would speak to authorities Wednesday afternoon about the discrepancy.

"It seems to make sense that Billy and Jeannie were sitting in the front, where the most damage was sustained," Garamella added.

Authorities said Tuesday that Ken Green was thrown from the vehicle.

Garamella added that while there are no immediate plans for a memorial service for William Green, who lives in Florida, he's sure friends in the Danbury area will do something, whether formal or spontaneous, for the well-liked former resident.

Funeral services for Hodgin will be held Friday in North Carolina.

Ken Green is expected to undergo surgery next week to fix the broken bones around his eye, Garamella said. Doctors cleaned the wound surrounding the broken bone in his leg.

According to Dr. Joe DiGiovanni , an orthopedic surgeon at Danbury Hospital , infection is an important concern when there an open fracture, which means the bone has pierced the skin.

Doctors have to be sure the wound is free of any possible contaminants before they can realign the bone. A distal tibia fracture, DiGiovanni said, means the break occurred near the ankle.

"It's one of the worst fractures," he said. "It can take the longest to heal, up to a year."

DiGiovanni added that an external device, such as one with rings or bars, may have to be used to hold the bone into place while it heals. More surgeries may be needed in the future if it doesn't heal correctly.

The doctor said while he is not an expert on eye injuries, a broken bone around the eye could result in some loss of vision.

"Even if everything goes well, he's not going to be playing golf for at least a year," DiGiovanni said.

Green, who was the fourth top money winner on the PGA Tour in 1988 and played on the Ryder Cup team in 1989, last year joined the PGA's Champions Tour, the organization's senior division for players 50 and older.

Green made about $123,906 in 11 starts on the Champions Tour, including a seventh-place finish in the AT&T Champions Classic in March.

He finished 37th Sunday in the Triton Financial Classic in Austin, Texas, and was traveling to Hodgin's home in North Carolina when the accident occurred.

"He's definitely out for the rest of the year," Garamella said, "but next year -- his friends are still hopeful."

Michael Goodman , also a longtime friend of Ken Green, said friends and family, including his son Ken Jr. and his sister, Shelley White , are rushing to his side at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Miss.

"People are doing whatever they can," he said. "Everyone is wishing for the best."

Contact Dirk Perrefort


or at (203) 731-3358.