- Arkansas Traveler/Ryan Miller
- THE TROOPER AND THE COACH: Capt. Lance King and Bobby Petrino.
As promised, the Arkansas State Police today released further information about Troop L Capt. Lance King’s response to the motorcycle wreck April 1 in which head University of Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino was involved.
His statement (which you can read in full on the jump) shows that he was notified by State Police of a wreck involving a motorcycle registered to Petrino and tried to call the coach but couldn’t reach him. He later received a call from an unidentified woman, apparently the same woman he met soon after when meeting a car transporting the injured Petrino. It would eventually turn out to be Jessica Dorrell, but King said he had no idea who she was.
He said in the course of gathering information about the wreck, Petrino had asked on one occasion whether his passenger would have to be identified and King said the name would be required, but he said Petrino didn’t ask him to keep the name out of the report. King said he’d had no contact with anyone at the UA about the accident except Kevin Trainor, associate athletic director, in the form of a brief e-mail from Trainor thanking him for putting him in touch with the State Police media officer.
The report reveals that King called Petrino at 2:50 p.m. last Thursday to say that the accident report was about to be released. It was issued at 3:02 p.m., the minute Petrino called Athletic Director Jeff Long to confess his earlier misstatements.
State Police said King had violated no policy or law in his handling of the case.
King, who commands the troop that responded to the accident, didn’t respond to the wreck in an official capacity. He serves as the State Police-supplied sideline and traveling security for the Hog football coach and thus has a close relationship with Petrino. It had been reported last week that, after passing motorists picked up the injured Petrino and passenger, Jessica Dorrell, someone called King on Petrino’s cell phone to meet them at a Fayetteville restaurant to complete Petrino’s run to a hospital for treatment of cracked ribs and other injuries. Dorrell’s car was parked there and she departed, apparently unhurt.
Reports that night failed to say Petrino had a companion. A statement issued by the University, based on his account, said he was alone and Petrino repeated that an assertion at a Tuesday, April 3, news conference following the Sunday wreck. All hell broke loose last Thursday, when the official State Police report on the accident was released. A trooper reported that a cause for the accident couldn’t be found and no citation would be issued, but the report revealed that Petrino had company, a young, attractive former UA volleyball player he’d recently hired at $55,700 a year as a player development co-ordinator. That meant he had lied to the public and university officials about being alone. He alerted Athletic Director Jeff Long of that fact minutes before the release of the report. This, in turn, led to a late-night Long news conference at which he expressed disappointment in Petrino and said he’d be placed on administrative leave for further review. I wrote him today asking if a decision was near and he responded through an aide that the matter remained under review. Petrino released a statement that night alluding to a previous “inappropriate” relationship, apparently with Dorrell, as a reason he’d tried to cover up her presence.
Today’s report from King was requested by his supervisors, because of a number of media questions raised about King’s role in the events and what he might have reported to whom about the accident. The Ozark family that picked up Petrino had initially told reporters Petrino was alone, but eventually conceded otherwise after the report was released. They said they only wanted to spare Petrino problems, but the State Police was asked if King had suggested they be silent on the point. Today’s supplemental report says King only relayed the family’s appreciation for their help. The coach’s wife had asked King about who picked up her husband because she said she wanted to thank them.
Here’s the first report released by State Police. It includes statements taken from Petrino and Dorrell dated as having been taken April 1, the day of the wreck, though they were taken April 3.