Vernon Pratt, an associate professor of art at Duke, was seriously injured in a bicycle accident two weeks before Christmas and was listed in critical condition Thursday in an intensive care unit at Duke Hospital.
The accident occurred on Dec. 14 a short distance from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts near Lynchburg, where Pratt had gone to paint. He was on sabbatical this past fall and was scheduled to return to campus and teach this semester.
An investigator with the Virginia State Police said that it wasn't entirely clear how the accident occurred. There was no evidence that Pratt's bicycle was struck by a passing vehicle and it appeared that he fell off of the bike, said Trooper John Ratliff.
"There was no paint transfer on his bike or helmet, and there was no damage to the bike," Ratliff said. "The road he was on is in a wooded area. It may be that he was distracted by a deer or someone's dog."
According to Deborah Pratt, wife of the Duke professor, her husband suffered brain damage, a ruptured aorta, a collapsed lung, a broken clavicle, cracked ribs, and other internal injuries. He was in a coma at the hospital's neurosciences intensive care unit.