Athlete's Parents Forgive Driver in Crash

ByABC News via GMA logo
December 21, 2003, 8:25 PM

A T L A N T A, Ga., Jan. 1 -- Memories of their son's quick wit and infectious toothless grin are all that is left for Luann and Graham Snyder.

The death of their son, Dan Snyder, a 25-year-old hockey player for the Atlanta Thrashers, has been a tremendous loss.

"He was always silly," recalled Luann Snyder. "Very expressive without words, but always very silly. Always had everybody laughing."

His parents always joked that their boys were born with hockey sticks in their hands.

"I think the joy that he had playing hockey always shined through," Graham Snyder said.

Fans and teammates who saw that joy firsthand were shocked at the tragic news of the young forward's death. On the night of Sept. 29, Snyder was seated in the passenger seat of a Ferrari that crashed into a brick wall at an estimated 80 miles per hour in Atlanta. After six days in a coma, Snyder died from his head injuries on Oct. 5. The driver his teammate and good friend, 22-yr-old Dany Heatley survived, despite broken bones and bruises.

"They were only three years apart in age and, I don't know, there was just an instant 'likeness' there," Luann Snyder said. "They liked to do things. They liked the same music. They liked going to concerts. They just seemed to really click."

Ferrari Speeds out of Control

When the crash happened, the Ferrari was going well over the speed limit, spinning out of control. Both Dan Snyder and Heatley had been drinking, but a Breathalyzer test showed that Heatley's blood-alcohol level was within the legal limits.

Snyder's death been painful for his team as well as for his family.

"I didn't lose a player," said Bob Hartley, the Thrashers' head coach. "I lost a son."

"We used to call him chicken legs because he had really skinny legs," said Don Waddell, the team's vice president and general manager. "He was a fun guy to be around. Loved by his teammates. Loved by the fans."

Waddell presented Dan Snyder's skates to his family after his death.