2007_05_corzine4.jpg

Ensconced at the NJ Governor's Mansion, Drumthwacket, Governor Jon Corzine started to give extensive interviews with the media yesterday. He told the Star-Ledger how a state trooper who responded to his April 12 accident jumped on top of him to shield him from the burning SUV as other responders were trying to put out the fire. Corzine said, "Jimmy Ryan is a hero of unbelievable proportions." Ryan downplayed incident, saying, "That's what our unit does. That's what we're there for. It was a total team effort. We're all concerned about the governor's safety and it was a team effort."

As for riding without a seatbelt while his car was speeding? Here's what Corzine told the Star-Ledger:

"It's thoughtless and I hold myself accountable. ... I also hope I can help other people recognize that the thoughtlessness can lead to real implications," he said. "I didn't grow up with it (wearing a seat belt), so I just don't think about it as the first thing that I do. Actually Sam (Samantha Gordon, an aide who travels with the governor and was also injured in the crash) reminded me most of the time to put the thing on."

Corzine said he was oblivious to everything going on in the SUV before the accident, even the flashers and the speedometer rolling to 91 mph.

"I'll tell you what I've said and I'll say over again: I trust [the troopers]. I was doing my paperwork. I know what I was doing. I can almost -- with 95 percent certainty -- say [his driver, State Trooper] Rob (Rasinski) was doing what he was supposed to be doing."

He emphasized to the Star-Ledger as well as the AP that he was lucky to be alive, because he did think he was dying. And even more so that his broken leg (which broke through his skin), Corzine was worried he was having a heart attack or something similar.

While sitting in the backyard, he said, "I just couldn't feel more gratitude about the chance to be alive. It's great to see the sun. It's great to sit here." Well, Corzine certainly looks pretty good for someone who has broken practically all his ribs, sternum, vertebra and his left leg and lost half his blood. But, as he returns to work tomorrow, he does have a lot ahead, including dealing with NJ's $2 billion budget deficit.

Photographs by Mel Evans/AP