The state trooper who was driving Gov. Jon S. Corzine in his near-fatal car accident is back behind the wheel of the governor's vehicle even as he faces an unpaid suspension for his role in the crash.
Corzine told WCBS radio in New York on Tuesday that he is "absolutely confident" in Trooper Robert Rasinski.
"As a matter of fact, so confident that he drove for me on Saturday," Corzine said.
A state police accident review board last week found Rasinski could have prevented the April 12 crash, which happened as Rasinski drove 91 mph in a 65 mph zone with the SUV's emergency lights flashing.
The head of the state police, 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 are refusing 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, adding that "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.
Broke 15 bones
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 ... the doctors tell me I'm doing very well."
The crash happened when the governor's sport utility vehicle was clipped by a pickup truck. The truck had swerved to avoid a vehicle that was trying to get out of the way of the governor's speeding SUV.
Corzine has released a public service announcement urging people to wear seat belts and said Tuesday 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.