Oct. 18, 2004
SportsLine.com wire reports

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Three Rutgers football players were injured, one seriously, in a multi-vehicle accident caused by a man accused of drunken driving.

Safety Dondre L. Asberry, 20, of Miami, suffered a spine fracture and head injuries in the accident Saturday night, police said.

The junior remained in critical condition Monday at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, hospital spokeswoman Kristen Walsh said.

Cornerbacks Leslie "Manny" Collins and Eddie Grimes, both 20, sustained head and facial injuries. They were treated and released from the hospital along with Collins' brother, George W. Hardison, 18, who also suffered head and facial injuries.

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said he doubted Collins and Grimes would play when Rutgers travels to Pittsburgh on Saturday. "They're banged up. I'll know more as the week goes on," Schiano said.

None of the players are starters.

The accident occurred on Route 18 near the Rutgers campus several hours after Rutgers' 16-6 win over Temple.

Police said Daniel J. Merlino, 26, of South Plainfield, was driving north in the southbound lanes of the roadway at about 7:30 p.m. when his 2001 Mitsubishi Galant collided head-on with a 2003 GMC Envoy heading south.

Collins, of Plainfield, was driving a 1989 Toyota Tercel that then struck the Envoy, which overturned, police said. Grimes, of Hialeah, Fla., and Asberry were seated in the rear. Hardison, of Plainfield, was not wearing a seat belt and was partially ejected from the front seat.

Merlino was charged with drunken driving and reckless driving. He was not wearing a seat belt and suffered multiple fractures and head and internal injuries, police said.

The driver of the Envoy, 52-year-old Antonio Cristiano of Piscataway, and his wife, Sylvia, 51, suffered head and facial injuries and were treated and released from St. Peter's Hospital in New Brunswick.

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