It’s hard to believe, but it’s been 35 years. It was on Nov. 11, 1985, that the sports world was shocked by the news that Philadelphia Flyers’ 26 year old goalie, Pelle Lindbergh, died as a result of a car crash in New Jersey.

Lindbergh was an ascending star in the National Hockey League, having won the Vezina Trophy as the best goalie in the league and had carried the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals. In the early hours of Nov. 10, Lindbergh had left a Flyers’ team party at the team’s practice facility in Voorhees and was driving his Porsche at a “high rate of speed” according to police.

He failed to negotiate a curve and slammed his sports car into a wall in front of Somerdale Elementary School causing damage to his spinal cord and brain stem. Lindbergh stopped breathing but still had a pulse when emergency personnel arrived but soon after he went into cardiac arrest; he did not die at the scene, however, and was transported to the hospital. He was determined to be brain dead but was kept on life support until his family was flown in from Sweden later that day to say goodbye and give permission to take him off life support, after his organs were harvested for donation.

His blood alcohol content at the time of the crash was .24, well above the legal limit for New Jersey (.10 at the time). Two passengers in the car were seriously injured but survived.

Lindbergh was posthumously voted to his third NHL All-Star game that season; he was the leading vote getter. The Flyers give out an award in his name to the team member who shows the most improvement.

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