2007_04_lights.jpgHow much of an emergency is getting back to the Governor's mansion for a meeting between Don Imus and the Rutgers women's basketball team? Because the NJ State Police confirmed that Governor Corzine's SUV, which crashed last Thursday along the Garden State Parkway, was going 91 MPH, well over the 65 MPH speed limit.

Further, NJ State Police Superintendent Joseph Fuentes said that the speed of the state trooper-driven SUV probably contributed to the accident, versus actions of other vehicles. Which, as this excerpt from the NY Times shows, is a reversal from original

The results of the accident investigation contradict the original account the state police gave in the first 24 hours. Colonel Fuentes himself said Thursday night that “speed was not a factor” in the accident. When asked Tuesday whether he now believed that speed played a role in the accident, Colonel Fuentes replied: “What do you think?”

“Speed is always a contributing factor in any accident,” he added later. “It goes to the heart of what damage you may have on the vehicle.”

John Jay College of Criminal Justice professor Eugene O'Donnell told the Times that speeding might be understandable if an official was responding to a disaster, but "an elected official trying to get a routine appointment would certainly be out of the scope of an emergency definition.” And the Mid-Atlantic spokesperson for the AAA said, "With all due respect to the governor and with complete compassion in mind for the injuries he sustained, he has set a poor example."

Corzine suffered critical injuries during the accident, which occurred when he was sitting in the front passenger seat and most likely not wearing a seat belt. He faces extensive rehabilitation, after breaking multiple ribs and a vertebra as well as his left leg. The Post has a withering editorial about Corzine's apparent belief "he enjoyed a special dispensation" from traffic laws. And three years ago, the Mayor removed sirens and lights from city officials' cars after Deputy Mayor Carol Robles-Roman was caught by WCBS 2 for using them to commute between home and work.