N.J. Gov­er­nor Has 2nd Surgery

Corzine Re­cov­er­ing; Driver Blamed For Crash Didn’t Know He Was In­volved

The Washington Post Sunday - - National News - By Maryclaire Dale

CAM­DEN, N.J., April 14 — New Jer­sey Gov. Jon S. Corzine (D) un­der­went surgery on his in­jured leg Satur­day, while state po­lice said the driver blamed for the wreck that crit­i­cally in­jured the gov­er­nor had been found but did not re­al­ize he was in­volved.

Corzine’s re­cov­ery was pro­gress­ing bet­ter than doc­tors ex­pected, said Steven Ross, the head of trauma at Cooper Univer­sity Hospi­tal. In the surgery, doc­tors cleaned a six-inch wound on Corzine’s left thigh.

The gov­er­nor is not able to speak and is not aware of his sur­round­ings be­cause of his heavy se­da­tion. He is ex­pected to re­main on a ven­ti­la­tor un­til at least Mon­day, doc­tors said.

Corzine was hurt Thurs­day when the sport-util­ity ve­hi­cle he was rid­ing in was clipped by a ve­hi­cle that swerved to avoid a red pickup truck that of­fi­cials said was be­ing driven er­rat­i­cally. Corzine’s ve­hi­cle slammed into a guardrail along the Gar­den State Park­way in Gal­loway Town­ship, near At­lantic City.

The 20-year-old driver of the red truck was found Fri­day night at an At­lantic City casino where he works and was in­ter­viewed by po­lice of­fi­cers, po­lice said.

He was not charged with leav­ing the scene of an ac­ci­dent be­cause he did not re­al­ize he was in­volved in the crash, State Po­lice Capt. Al Della Fave said. How­ever, au­thor­i­ties left the door open for charges to be filed later, say­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was not com­plete.

An of­fi­cial with knowl­edge of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion de­scribed the man as a “spe­cial-needs driver” but said it was un­clear if that con­trib­uted to the ac­ci­dent. The of­fi­cial, who was not au­tho­rized to dis­cuss the mat­ter, spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity.

The driver ap­par­ently thought he had avoided an ac­ci­dent be­cause his truck never came in con­tact with other ve­hi­cles, po­lice said.

“He hadn’t any inkling that he con­trib­uted to” the ac­ci­dent, Della Fave said. “That al­le­vi­ates him of the re­spon­si­bil­ity of re­main­ing at the ac­ci­dent scene.”

Corzine ap­par­ently was not wear­ing his seat belt, as re­quired by law, while rid­ing in the SUV, which was driven by a state trooper. In ad­di­tion, the ve­hi­cle’s air bags may have not in­flated, ac­cord­ing to Tom Shea, the gov­er­nor’s chief of staff.

The gov­er­nor’s fe­mur was bro­ken in two places. He un­der­went two hours of surgery on his leg af­ter be­ing hos­pi­tal­ized. He also suf­fered a bro­ken ster­num, 12 bro­ken ribs, a head lac­er­a­tion and a mi­nor frac­ture on a lower ver­te­bra, ac­cord­ing to doc­tors at Cooper Univer­sity Hospi­tal, where he was flown by he­li­copter af­ter the crash. Corzine, 60, did not ap­pear to suf­fer brain dam­age.

His in­juries are not con­sid­ered life-threat­en­ing, but doc­tors say the gov­er­nor faces lengthy re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

Shea said he was hope­ful that Corzine could re­sume his du­ties in “a week or so,” de­pend­ing on doc­tor rec­om­men­da­tions. Shea said it is pos­si­ble that Corzine would gov­ern from his hospi­tal bed.

BY JACKIE SC­HEAR — AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Or­tho­pe­dic sur­geon Robert F. Ostrum an­swers ques­tions about in­juries to New Jer­sey Gov. Jon S. Corzine. At right is Tom Shea, Corzine’s chief of staff. At left is Steven Ross, head of trauma at Cooper Univer­sity Hospi­tal. Corzine was crit­i­cally in­jured Thurs­day.

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