NJ Governor Critically Injured in Motorcade Crash

By Jeff McKay | July 7, 2008 | 8:23 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine was critically injured Thursday evening when his two-vehicle motorcade was involved in a high-speed crash involving a hit-and-run driver.

Corzine suffered numerous broken bones and was airlifted to Cooper University Hospital in Camden, where he immediately underwent emergency surgery. He is now listed in critical but stable condition, and doctors say he'll undergo several more operations.

Corzine, who may not have been wearing a seat belt, suffered a broken leg that ruptured his skin, a broken sternum, broken collarbone, and six broken ribs on each side along with a broken vertebrae and head lacerations.

The accident happened around 6 p.m. on the Garden State Parkway in Galloway Township near Atlantic City.

At a hospital press conference, New Jersey State Police Superintendent Rick Fuentes said the driver of a red pickup truck, still unidentified, caused another vehicle to swerve in front of Corzine's motorcade.

"The governor's car collided with a white pickup that had swerved to avoid a red pickup that was driving erratically," Fuentes said. "The white Dodge made an evasive maneuver by pulling hard to the left. At this point, the governor's Chevrolet Tahoe, which was traveling in the left lane, attempted, but was unable to avoid impacting the rear of the white Dodge pickup and lost directional control.

The governor's vehicle slid sideways, and the passenger side struck and flipped over a guard rail in the center median. Corzine, 60, was sitting in the front passenger seat.

The driver of Corzine's vehicle, a New Jersey State Trooper, and a third passenger in Corzine's SUV - a 25-year-old aide -- were treated at Cooper University Hospital for less serious injuries.

"From our preliminary investigation, it looks as if the trooper did a tremendous job in maintaining what control he could over that vehicle, given the fact that the other vehicle swerved into his path," Fuentes said.

Corzine was traveling to the governor's official residence in Princeton where he was scheduled to host a meeting between embattled radio host Don Imus and the Rutgers University women's basketball team.

The meeting between Imus - newly fired by CBS -- and the basketball players went on as planned, and lasted about three hours.

Police are asking for the public's help in locating the red pickup that fled the scene.

Dr. Steven Ross, head of the Trauma Unit at Cooper University Hospital, said Corzine's injuries were serious "but not life threatening."

Corzine was listed in critical but stable condition Friday, following surgery to repair his numerous broken bones.

"There was no brain or spinal cord damage," Ross said. Corzine will remain in the hospital's intensive care unit pending two more surgeries scheduled for Saturday and Monday.

Doctors also inserted a breathing tube into Corzine's throat.

New Jersey State Senate President Richard Codey, also a Democrat, will serve as acting governor until Corzine is able to resume his duties. Doctors expect Corzine to require physical therapy as part of his recovery.

Codey also served as acting governor when former Governor Jim McGreevey resigned in disgrace after announcing he'd had a homosexual affair with one of his aides while in office.

Ironically, the last three elected governors of New Jersey all suffered broken legs while in office, including McGreevey and Christie Todd Whitman, who broke her leg while skiing.

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