Ken Green, Danbury PGA Champions Tour golfer, seriously injured in car accident
Published 1:00 am, Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Pro golfer and Danbury native Ken Green lost his brother, girlfriend and dog in a highway crash Monday.
Green survived the accident in which the recreational vehicle he was driving swerved off an interstate highway in Mississippi and hit a tree, but he faces possible amputation of his right leg, just as his career in the PGA's senior tour was catching on.
William Green , 56, also a former city resident and Ken's older brother, and Ken's longtime girlfriend Jeannie Hodgin , 52, of Greensboro, N.C., were killed in the accident.
Green's German shepherd Nip, who the pro golfer had literally saved from the jaws of an alligator several years ago, also was killed.
Friends expressed shock and sadness upon learning of Monday's tragedy.
Green, 50, was thrown from the vehicle and was seriously injured in the crash, which occurred around 1:30 p.m. on Interstate 20.
Green, who won five PGA tournaments during his career, injured his left eye and his right leg.
He was in surgery for much of the night Monday at the University of Mississippi Medical Center , and doctors are trying to save his leg from amputation, friends said.
Sgt. Malachi Sanders , a public affairs officer with the Mississippi Highway Patrol, said Green was driving the RV and lost control of the vehicle when the right front tire blew out.
The RV swerved off the road, down an embankment and into a large tree, he said.
William Green and Jeannie Hodgin were pronounced dead at the scene.
Jack Garamella , a Danbury attorney who was Ken Green's lawyer and longtime friend, expressed sadness over the tragedy.
"His leg injury is evidently quite serious," said Garamella. "The last word I had was that doctors are fighting to save his leg."
Garamella said William Green had been working as a caddy for his brother and had been traveling with him for several weeks on the seniors tour.
"He'd been with Ken for a number of years on the tour," he said "They had the same circle of friends. He's going to be missed by all the people who are presently rooting for Kenny's recovery."
Arnold Winkler , who lives across the street from William Green in Indiantown, Fla., said the community is shocked by the news. Winkler, also a former Danbury resident, moved to Florida about 22 years ago.
"I can't believe it," he said. "Bill was a great guy."
Bob Geambazi, the head golf professional at Ridgewood Country Club in Danbury, said Bill was always there for Ken.
"He was a great guy," Geambazi said. "The two of them were inseparable."
Garamella said Ken Green and Hodgin had been dating for about 10 years. The woman's parents -- Norm and Libby Hodgin -- were early supporters of Green's golfing career, Garamella said.
"He was like a son to them," he said.
Garamella added that Green, whose career had hit a slump in recent years, was energized to be playing on the Champions Tour, the PGA's senior division.
"He was very excited about it," said Michael Goodman , a longtime friend of Green and former city resident who now resides in Westport.
"He was getting his game back together," Goodman said. "He was sure this was going to turn around his life.
"It's devastating," Goodman said. "This was in a sense his last opportunity, and he was making the most of it. All his friends were very proud of him."
Green was the fourth top money winner on the PGA Tour in 1988 and was a member of the United States Ryder Cup team in 1989.
Green had 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 driving to Hodgin's home in North Carolina when the accident occurred, friends said.
Green was planning to make a qualifying bid next week for the senior PGA championship before spending a few weeks in Danbury in July.
"He had been working hard to keep up his game so he could join the senior tour, and he was just starting to enjoy a long-awaited success when this terrible tragedy happens," Garamella said. "It's almost like a tease, when you get there it all disappears."
Green's sister, Shelley White , who used to caddy for her brother, and her husband, Slugger White , a PGA Tour rules official, were both at the medical center in Mississippi, friends said.
Police said the accident, like most involving a fatality, remains under investigation.
Contact Dirk Perrefort at email@example.com or at (203) 731-3358.