Wreck partially paralyzes actor

May 07, 2003 12:00 am

By SCOTT PESZNECKER

An actor known for his tough-guy image is partially paralyzed in a Santa Clara hospital after a car accident at the end of March.

Robert Conrad, 68, was supposed to be arraigned yesterday in Calaveras County Superior Court on charges of felony drunken driving causing injury. He is accused of injuring a Forest Meadows resident in a March 31 head-on collision in Arnold.

However, Conrad — with homes in Bear Valley and Murphys — could not make it to court because of his own injuries from the wreck, said Lavelda Conrad.

"He's very depressed," Conrad's wife of 25 years said, standing outside the Calaveras County Courthouse yesterday.

"He's taking medication for his depression."

At 7:15 p.m. March 31, according to California Highway Patrol reports, Conrad was driving west on Highway 4 near Arnold when his green Jaguar crossed the center line and struck an oncoming car, injuring Kevin Burnett of Forest Meadows. CHP reports at the time alleged Conrad was drunk, and listed his injuries as "moderate."

Conrad was arrested that night at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto on the felony charges.

Calaveras County District Attorney Jeff Tuttle has said Conrad's blood-alcohol level that night was .22 percent. The legal limit is .08.

When Conrad didn't show up in court yesterday, Superior Court Judge Douglas Mewhinney wanted to know why.

"He's not capable of being here," said Timothy Pemberton, Conrad's Markleeville attorney.

Tuttle told Mewhinney he received a letter from the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, which stated Conrad is suffering paralysis from his head injury. Both attorneys agreed to continue the arraignment until 8:30 a.m. June 10.

Pemberton would not comment on his client's criminal case or how Conrad might plead.

Lavelda Conrad didn't want to talk about that, either.

"He has no memory of the accident," she said.