||05-15-2009 09:03 AM
Ex-Yankee hospitalized in suicide threat
The sad saga of ex-Yankee slugger Jim Leyritz has taken another turn.
Leyritz, who is awaiting trial for a fatal drunk-driving crash, was hospitalized Wednesday night after threatening suicide when he failed a Breathalyzer test required to start his car, Florida cops said Thursday.
A warrant for Leyritz's arrest — for drinking alcohol in violation of his bail conditions — could be issued as early as Thursday if the alcohol-testing device confirms such a violation, Florida authorities said.
Leyritz, 45, was released from a psychiatric unit at Memorial Hospital in Hollywood, Fla., Thursday afternoon, according to his ex-wife, Karri Leyritz, whose Davie, Fla., house Leyritz is now living at.
"He just got home," said Karri. "I can't say anything until he talks to his lawyer. He's going to see him right now."
Asked if Leyritz had tried to kill himself, Karri said, "I'm sorry, I can't say anything until he talks to his lawyer."
But Davie police told The Post that Leyritz had threatened to kill himself after becoming "distraught and upset" Wednesday night.
Police Lt. Bill Coyne said a person from New Jersey called Davie police at about 9:20 p.m. last night and said "they had a concern for (Leyritz's) welfare."
Davie police then went to Karri Leyritz's home who told them that Jim Leyritz had blown into the Breathalyzer in an attempt to start his car, but the device indicated he had been drinking, Coyne said.
Karri told cops that Jim had not been drinking.
Karri said Leyritz went out to the car a second time, and that when he tried the device that time it indicated he had not been drinking.
That is when Leyritz became upset because he knew the first result would be reported to authorities as a possible violation of his bail conditions, Karri told cops, according to Coyne.
"That caused him to be distraught," Coyne said.
Karri then told cops that Leyritz said something to the effect that, "He might as well 'end it' if it's too much trouble," Coyne said.
When police talked to Leyritz, who was at the house, he told them, "I just need to talk to somebody," Coyne said.
Officers told him he could voluntarily go to the hospital, Coyne said.
"He asked them if they could give him a ride. He had packed his own bag," Coyne said. The cops drove him to the hospital "and he checked himself in voluntarily," Coyne said.
Leyritz's lawyer, J. David Bogenschutz, could not be reached for comment.
Earlier yesterday, hospital employees refused to put Leyritz on the phone when a reporter asked to speak with him. But a hospital source said at the time, "He's OK ... he's up and walking around."
Leyritz is free on bail while awaiting trial on DUI manslaughter charges for the late 2007 death of a restaurant waitress Fredia Ann Veitch in a two-car crash that occurred after the former Yankee was celebrating his 44th birthday. Leyritz allegedly had a blood-alcohol content of .14 — well above the legal limit — several hours after the crash, while Veitch had a .18 alcohol level at the time of her death.
As part of his bail, Leyritz — who burned through the $11 million he earned in an 11-year major league career that included stints with the Red Sox, Rangers, Padres and Dodgers — is barred from consuming booze.
The Broward County Sheriff's Office confirmed that an incident occurred at Leyritz's home last night, but would not elaborate.
"Officially, we are awaiting results, Breathalyzer results," said Veda Coleman-Wright, spokeswoman for the sheriff's office.
Broward County prosecutors "would issue a warrant if the test results come back positive," Coleman-Wright said. "I can't say more than that. The state's attorney will have more information later in the day."
This would not be the first time that Leyritz has drank alcohol since being released on bail.
The 1996 World Series hero was arrested in mid-February after prosecutor said he had tried to drive his car at least four times between last September and Jan. 9 after he been imbibing booze. Prosecutors then asked a judge to keep Leyritz in jail until trial, which could send him to prison for up to 15 years if he is convicted.
But the judge freed Leyritz saying that he deserved "the benefit of the doubt" because he had not been explicitly told by Sheriff's officials that he was still barred from drinking after the Breathalyzer was placed on his car in April 2008
However, at a February hearing, Judge Ilona Holmes reminded Leyritz that he is prohibited from drinking booze or using any product containing alcohol.
"I don't care if it's Listerine," Holmes told Leyritz, saying she should not hesitate to jail him upon his next violation of her order.
Leyritz told her, "I fully understand."