NEWS 2000

Monday September 25 1:42 PM ET

Autopsy Slated for Driver Who Struck Stephen King

PORTLAND, Maine (Reuters) - Horror writer Stephen King said on Monday he was sorry about the untimely death of the driver who struck and severely injured him last year.

Police found Bryan Smith, 43, dead in his home in the hamlet of Fryeburg, Maine. The disabled former construction worker's cause of death was not immediately apparent and a routine autopsy was scheduled. But authorities said they did not suspect foul play.

Smith was driving the 1985 Dodge Caravan in June 1999 that struck and nearly killed King.

The author of "Misery," "Carrie" and "The Shining" underwent several operations to repair a broken hip and fractured leg. He spent months on crutches and underwent physical therapy to learn how to walk again.

"I was very sorry to hear of the passing of Bryan Smith," King said in a statement. "The death of a 43-year-old man can only be termed untimely."

Smith was found dead in his bed Friday night. Autopsies, however, are routinely performed in Maine when the cause of death is unknown.

Smith was convicted of aggravated assault and driving to endanger in the King incident, charges that carry more than 10 years in prison. But after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors, only his driving privileges were revoked for a year.

He was expecting to find out next month whether the state would renew his driver's license.

A graveside service is scheduled for Tuesday.