Local Olympian Torres' coach, mother injured in crash

  • Jorge Torres, right, during a 10,000-meter races at the U.S. Olympic Trials.

    Jorge Torres, right, during a 10,000-meter races at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Courtesy of PhotoRun.net

Published: 7/22/2009 11:26 AM | Updated: 7/22/2009 6:41 PM

The mother and former coach of Olympic runner Jorge Torres were critically injured in a car crash in Colorado while on their way home to Illinois from Torres' wedding.

Longtime track coach Greg Fedyski, 60, of Arlington Heights, and Maria Torres, 58, of Golf, were airlifted to a hospital in Nebraska following the crash early Sunday in far northeastern Colorado near Sedgwick.

Fedyski's brother, Gerald, said his brother is clinging to life and might not survive the next few days. He said Maria Torres is expected to recover.

"It's bad," Gerald Fedyski said Wednesday from his Arlington Heights home before he left to fly to his brother's side.

"He has a punctured lung, a fractured back and a blood clot in his brain that is killing him. I'm going to the hospital tomorrow and we're going to have a conference with his doctors to see if there is anything that can be done."

Greg Fedyski will have an MRI done today, said Gerald Fedyski, who's flying to Colorado this morning.

Jorge Torres and his twin brother Edwardo were standout runners at Wheeling High School who brought multiple state titles in cross country to the school.

Greg Fedyski coached the Torres brothers at MacArthur Middle School in Prospect Heights and at Fedyski's private Prospect Heights Running Club, and the brothers credited Fedyski with getting them into the sport.

In the local running community Fedyski or "Fed" was known as a tough coach who was fiercely protective of his runners. He would often attend Hersey and Wheeling High School cross country meets to watch his former MacArthur runners compete.

And there were no two runners he was prouder of than the Torres brothers, said Tom Polak, Wheeling High School's head cross country and track coach.

"The number of kids Fed got involved in cross country helped build our program, no doubt about it," Polak said. "He was able to find kids like Jorge and Edwardo and turn them into world class athletes."

In an interview with Mensracing.com, Jorge Torres said Fedyski was one of his role models along with his mom, dad and brothers.

"... Greg Fedyski took me aside and said, 'Listen, you've got way better goals ahead of you, better races to run. Concentrate on developing yourself as a runner.'

"I really respect that and he's actually one of my good friends and I still talk to him - that's who I was on the other line with when you called," Torres told the Web site in 2002.

Fedyski was a physical education teacher and coached cross country and track at MacArthur for many years until he retired five years ago.

The Colorado State Patrol said Fedyski was behind the wheel when the car veered off the roadway, struck a post and rolled twice.

No other vehicles were involved. Police continue to probe the crash but said neither alcohol, drugs nor speed are suspected, though driver fatigue might have been a factor.

Gerald Fedyski said his brother fell asleep behind the wheel and was wearing his seat belt. He was driving back to the Chicago area to coach a group of middle school runners, Gerald Fedyski said.

"They left early in the morning, around 2 or 3 a.m. and the accident happened a few hours later, like 6 a.m.," he said. "He just wanted to get back here to coach the kids."

Fedyski was airlifted to a hospital in Scottsbluff, Neb.

Maria Torres was taken to a hospital in Colorado and then transported to the same hospital as Fedyski.

A third person in the car, Lynda Torres, 28, a relative of the family, sustained moderate injuries.

Gerald Fedyski said there was also a dog in the car that wasn't seriously injured.

Both Torres brothers competed for the University of Colorado. Jorge placed 25th in the 10,000-meter run at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.