TRENTON, New Jersey (Reuters) - New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine was heavily sedated and breathing with the help of a ventilator on Friday after a highway accident, though his condition was improving, aides and doctors said.
The Democratic governor was listed in critical but stable condition following the Thursday night crash in which he broke his left leg, six ribs, his sternum and collarbone.
The governor had surgery on the broken leg on Thursday and was scheduled for two more operations, one on Saturday and another on Monday, his chief of staff Tom Shea said.
Corzine was a passenger in the front of a police sport utility vehicle when it swerved to avoid another car and crashed through a guard rail.
“It does not appear he was wearing a seat belt,” the governor’s spokesman, Anthony Coley, told a news conference at Cooper University Hospital in Camden. State law requires front-seat passengers to wear one.
The accident occurred when Corzine was headed to the governor’s mansion in Princeton for a meeting with fired radio host Don Imus and the Rutgers University women’s basketball team.
The meeting went ahead without Corzine. Imus apologized to the team for calling them “nappy-headed hos,” a slur that prompted a weeklong public outcry and led CBS Radio to cancel the popular “Imus in the Morning” show.
Corzine, 60, was suffering from “severe trauma,” said Steven Ross, the hospital’s head of trauma. “Based on the pictures I have seen of the crash, I think he was lucky,” he said.
The governor could be removed from the ventilator in the next several days, Ross said. Coley said Corzine could resume official duties “in about a week or so.”
Shea said at the state capital of Trenton on Friday that Corzine’s vital signs continue to improve.
The state trooper who was driving the governor’s SUV was also hospitalized but no information about his condition was released.
State Senate President Richard Codey, serving as acting governor, said state business would continue as usual.