Survivor Holds Pelle Lindbergh Blameless

Posted: March 09, 1986

His voice comes in short clumps over the telephone as he hesitates on the beginnings of words, an unwelcome reminder of a nine-day coma. His broken nose, ribs and shoulders have mended, and a few scars still mark his face.

But Edward Parvin bears no scars on his heart.

Four months ago, Parvin, 28, nearly died in an automobile accident that claimed the life of the driver, his friend, Philadelphia Flyers goalie Pelle Lindbergh.

Hurtling down Somerdale Road at 5:30 a.m. on Nov. 10, Lindbergh's bright- red, high-powered Porsche 930 Turbo missed an abrupt turn and crashed into a concrete wall beside Somerdale Elementary School No. 1. Tests showed that Lindbergh was legally intoxicated.

"I want people to know how I feel," said Parvin, of Mount Ephraim, a bartender and real estate salesman before the accident. "People ask me, 'Am I angry that I was in the car with the drunk?' I say, 'No, no, no, Pelle was not drunk. I was in a freak accident.'

"It was a bad accident, and it happened. And nobody was to blame. It was a fast car, but nobody was to blame."

Pronounced brain-dead within hours, Lindbergh was kept alive on a life- support system until his family gave permission for his organs to be donated. Another passenger, Kathyleen McNeal, 22, a model and waitress from Ridley Park, Delaware County, also survived the crash, suffering injuries to her liver and spleen.

Parvin and Lindbergh, 26, became friends through Parvin's father, Edward H. Parvin, co-owner of Borden Realty Co. of Cherry Hill. The Parvins had helped many Flyers buy homes in South Jersey. Last summer, at Lindbergh's invitation, the younger Parvin spent two weeks in Sweden at Lindbergh's house.

The two would see each other at South Jersey bars after hockey games, and Parvin, a Flyers' season-ticket holder, rarely missed a game.

As soon as he was well enough to be discharged from the hospital for a weekend, he went back to the Flyers' practice rink to watch the team scrimmage. "It felt weird," he said. "I didn't know how it would feel being around all those people."

"I miss him, obviously," Parvin said of Lindbergh. "He had a will to live and he was a great guy. It's sad that someone who had so much to live for died at 26 years old."

Last week, Parvin dined with Lindbergh's fiance, Kerstin Pietzch, at a restaurant on Route 73. It was she who first had told Parvin that Lindbergh had died in the accident, the details of which Parvin says he simply cannot remember. For the first 25 days, he had no idea that Lindbergh had been killed. Parvin said that after he had spent nine days in a coma and several weeks of being heavily sedated to prevent seizures, his parents thought he was in no condition to learn the truth.

But hearing the news from Pietzch, he said, had precisely the opposite effect.

He said he gave himself a stern lecture: " 'She's been hurt more than anybody. What are you doing here in the hospital? She's hurting more than you.'

"I wanted to get better, because Pelle's the kind of guy that if he lost 10-1 in a hockey game, he'd go back in the next day and play harder than ever. If there was any good to come from this, I would have to get better."

Some days, Parvin said, he visits his father's real estate office, though he has not returned to work. He exercises at a club and goes to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Camden for speech therapy several times a week. He also undergoes occupational therapy that includes problem-solving practice.

He disputes reports that Lindbergh was too drunk to drive. Even if Lindbergh's blood-alcohol level was .24, more than double the legal intoxication limit of .10, Parvin said Lindbergh had not drunk enough to affect his driving.

"He was not a heavy drinker, by no means," he said. "He's an athlete. He's got to keep his senses. He was the best goalie. You can't drink until next Tuesday, practice on Wednesday morning and handle shots coming at you at 80 m.p.h."

Meanwhile, legal attention remains focused on the wreckage of Lindbergh's Porsche, a car that was capable of speeds up to 190 m.p.h. So far, however, no lawsuits have been filed in connection with the accident.

Shortly after the crash, Parvin's lawyer appeared in court in Camden asking Superior Court Judge Paul A. Lowengrub to prevent any garages from destroying Lindbergh's Porsche before an expert could examine it. Lowengrub granted the lawyers' request and several extensions, one of which was so the steering column could be examined. The last extension expired Thursday.

Cherry Hill attorney Lewis Katz, who is representing Lindbergh's estate, said he expects a report from a California-based automotive consultant on Wednesday. That report will help him figure out what, if any, legal action would be possible against the manufacturers of the car.

The lawyers have two years from the accident to file suits before the statute of limitations expires.

Lindbergh bought the 930 Turbo in West Germany in 1984 for about $52,000. After it was damaged by fire, he returned the car to the factory for $41,000 in custom modifications. The model 930 Turbo does not meet federal safety and emission standards and cannot be permanently garaged in the United States.

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