Gov. Corzine’s 91 mph trooper back on road

Posted: June 26, 2007

TRENTON - The state trooper who was driving Gov. Corzine in his near-fatal car accident is back behind the wheel of the governor's SUV, even as he faces an unpaid suspension for his role in the crash.

Corzine told WCBS Newsradio 880 in New York this morning he is "absolutely confident" in Trooper Robert Rasinski.

"As a matter of fact, so confident that he drove for me on Saturday," Corzine said.

Rasinski has been cleared to drive Corzine again after the accident. A state police accident review board last week faulted Rasinski for chauffeuring the governor at high speed with the emergency police lights flashing. The Garden State Parkway crash occurred April 12 as Rasinski. Rasinski was travelling 91 mph in a 65 mph zone as he drove the governor from Atlantic City to a meeting with disgraced radio personality Don Imus in Princeton.

The head of the state police, Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes, has recommended Rasinski be suspended without pay for up to five days for breaking department rules. State police have yet to release the police report from the accident and refuse to release a report by the accident review board that determined Rasinski had made mistakes.

Corzine noted those findings, but still credited Rasinski.

"In the midst of the accident he did everything he possibly could do to protect me and the other people in the car," Corzine said. "It was very clear that he did that and I think it could have been a lot worse if he hadn't been as able as he was."

Rasinski and a Corzine aide also in the car suffered minor injuries.

Corzine was not wearing a seat belt and was tossed from the front to the back of the SUV, breaking 15 bones. He spent 18 days in the hospital, eight on a ventilator, and had three surgeries.

Corzine, who recently moved from crutches to a cane, told WCBS his recovery was progressing.

"I'm moving around," Corzine said. "I'm not out jogging or anything at this stage, but I think we're well ahead of the kinds of schedules that were laid to me and were first discussed, and the doctors tell me I'm doing very well and I'm very blessed to have recovered as well as I have."

Corzine has released a public service announcement urging people to wear seat belts and said today he would continue to concentrate on traffic safety. He vowed to sign a recently passed bill that would both allow police to freely ticket drivers for talking on a hand-held cell phone and ban sending text messages while driving.

"I feel very strongly that we need to do that," Corzine said. "There are a lot of safety issues that need to be addressed, speed being one of them, and distractions while driving causes a lot of problems, so I will be happy to sign this bill and work on traffic safety in the future."

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