Priestley ailing

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Actor Jason Priestley faces weeks of healing and rehabilitation but is expected to fully recover from head and spinal injuries sustained in a high-speed crash during practice for an auto race.

Less than 24 hours after his car slammed into the Kentucky Speedway wall at about 180 mph, the former Beverly Hills, 90210 television heartthrob was alert, moving his arms and legs, and communicating with doctors and visitors.

”He is becoming more and more aware of his surroundings,” Dr. Stephan Stapczynski, chairman of the University of Kentucky Hospital’s Department of Emergency Medicine, said during a news conference Monday.

The 32-year-old Priestley crashed during practice Sunday for a race in the Infiniti Pro Series, a developmental circuit for the Indy Racing League.

He was flown to UK Hospital with a spinal fracture and a moderate concussion, as well as a broken nose, facial lacerations and broken bones in both feet. He remained in serious but stable condition Monday.

”He does not have any injury that shouldn’t fully recover,” Dr. Andrew Bernard said.

Priestley was transferred to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis late Monday afternoon. He had made previous arrangements to be transferred to the facility, which has treated several other Indy Racing League drivers, in the event he was involved in a serious accident.

”His condition has improved and stabilized to the point where a transfer can be made safely,” Stapczynski said in a statement.

Priestley may not need spinal surgery if his fractured ninth thoracic vertebra is stable, but he probably will need surgery to repair the bones in his feet.

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