An SUV carrying New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine crashed on the Garden State Parkway in Galloway Township. After undergoing extensive surgery, Corzine has a broken leg, twelve broken ribs, a broken collarbone, and a broken breastbone; he also has numerous facial lacerations. He is in stable condition and remains in the ICU, but faces many months of rehabilitation. State Senate President Richard Codey, who took over for NJ Governor James McGreevey when he stepped down, will be acting governor indefinitely.
While his injuries were not initially reported as life-threatening, the director of orthopedic trauma at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, NJ, Robert F. Ostrum, said that Corzine was lucky to be alive. Sources tell WNBC.com that Corzine, who was sitting in the front passenger seat of the SUV, was not wearing a seat belt; the state police could not confirm that, but Corzine typically does not wear seat belts. A volunteer EMT who happened to be near by said that Corzine was moaning when he saw him: James Freund told the NY Times, "It looked like the car made a direct impact on the left guard rail and kind of hopped over it.” Another witness told the Daily News that Corzine's legs were "hanging out the window" and that Corzine was screaming, "My leg! My leg!"
t's believed the SUV was run off the GSP after a red pick-up hit another car. From the Star-Ledger:
Corzine was sitting in the front passenger seat of the black Chevy Tahoe, alongside his driver. The motorcade was headed north in the left lane just past mile marker 44 when a red pickup truck entered the road from the shoulder and crossed into the path of a white Dodge Ram truck, police said.
The Dodge then swerved in front of the governor's SUV, colliding with the Tahoe and sending it careening onto the highway median and into the metal guardrail, police said.
The driver of the white Dodge stopped, but the pickup that police said caused the crash fled, officials said.
Corzine had been traveling from an Atlantic City meeting back to the governor's mansion for the meeting between the Rutgers women's basketball team and Don Imus. An aide sitting in the backseat did not need hospitalization while the trooper driving the SUV was treated at a hospital, but he asked that no information be released.
Former NJ governor Tom Kean and James McGreevey tell the Times that being governor of NJ means a lot of travel, with Kean saying, "When you spend your day in Trenton, which is right in the middle of the state, everyone thinks that you can get from there to where they are." (NY State has planes and helicopters for the governor.)
And NJ's seat belt law "Applies to all passengers, who are at least 8 years of age but less than 18 years of age, and each driver and front seat passenger of a passenger automobile, operated on a street or highway. All occupants are required to wear a properly adjusted and fastened seat belt system." We really hope Spitzer buckles up.
Update: Corzine's press secretary Anthony Coley confirms that the governor was not wearing a seat belt. We'd like acting Governor Codey to reprimand Corzine and make him do some serious PSAs about the issue, though Corzine will probably be a hobbling PSA for a while.