DerMarr Johnson Injured in Auto Accident

ATLANTA, Sept. 13 -- Atlanta Hawks guard/forward DerMarr Johnson (22) was involved in an early morning auto accident Friday in Atlanta. He, along with two other passengers, suffered injuries when Johnson's car veered off the road near his home in the Cascade area. His injuries are not considered life threatening.

Initially taken to Southwest Community Hospital, Johnson was later airlifted to Atlanta Medical Center.

Johnson's condition is currently listed as stable, with a vertebral body fracture, described by Dr. Paul King, neurosurgeon at Atlanta Medical Center, as a cervical spine fracture. According to Dr. King, Johnson could be released from the hospital as early as next week, following surgery scheduled for Friday afternoon or Saturday.

While initial reports indicated the surgical procedure could be performed at Atlanta Medical, team officials have said that Johnson's immediate family -- namely his mother -- will make the final determination as to the location of his surgery. Hawks team physicians have recommended Shepherd Spinal Center, one of the nation's leading facilities for treating spinal injuries. Johnson's mother was scheduled to arrive in metro Atlanta late Friday evening after taking a late afternoon flight from Washington, D.C.

According to Dr. King, the prognosis for Johnson's long-term recovery is excellent, but in the short term, his playing status for the upcoming season is in question.

"All the signs appear to be very positive," said Hawks VP/General Manager Pete Babcock. "There's no paralysis and none of his functions appear to be affected at all, so that's great news. The surgeon says the spinal fracture can be repaired."

After spending one season at the University of Cincinnati, Johnson was the Hawks' top pick (sixth overall) in the 2000 NBA Draft. Last season, he saw a significant increase in playing time as the season progressed, starting 46 games (playing in 72 overall) and averaging 8.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game (.396 FG%, .360 3FG%, .810 FT%). He posted a career-best 28 points vs. Milwaukee on April 2, 2002.

Johnson has been working diligently this offseason on increasing his upper-body strength. He participated in voluntary workouts with his teammates at Philips Arena on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week.