Gov. Jon S. Corzine's son said his father recognized him and responded to visitors Sunday, three days after an SUV crash left him on a ventilator with a dozen broken ribs and a severely fractured leg.
"When you talk to him, he can recognize your voice, that's my feeling," said Joshua Corzine, the eldest of two sons. "He definitely responds when you let him know who you are."
Joshua Corzine, 30, who spoke to reporters at the hospital along with his sister Jennifer Pisani, 36, and brother Jeffrey, 24, also thanked the medical staff for the care they've given Corzine and thanked well-wishers from across the country. The governor's three children said they were feeling positive about their father's condition.
"We're giving him the thumbs up right now, so we're really feeling good about what's happening," Pisani said.
The governor, who remains in critical condition, underwent a procedure to remove fluid that had collected outside his left lung. The procedure, which lasted less than 15 minutes, is common for patients who sustain a number of rib fractures and doctors said it was successful, said Coley said.
Corzine was injured Thursday when his SUV crashed on the Garden State Parkway, after his vehicle was hit by another vehicle that swerved to avoid a pickup truck, sending the governor's SUV into a guard rail.
The 60-year-old governor, who was apparently not wearing his seat belt in the front passenger's seat, broke his leg, 12 ribs, his breastbone and suffered a broken collarbone. He also had a head laceration and a minor fracture on a lower vertebra.
The governor has already undergone two surgeries on his badly broken leg and a third is expected Monday.
Senate President Richard Codey, who is acting governor as Corzine recovers, said he would not promote his own agenda while Corzine recovers. New Jersey does not have a lieutenant governor.
"One of the tough things here is I don't know how long it's going to be," Codey told The Record of Bergen County.
The accident comes as Corzine's administration was heading into its second budget battle with the Legislature, pushing a $33 billion budget that included big property tax rebates.
He also has plans to shore up the pension system and to raise money for the state by selling state assets like the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway, where the crash occurred.
Corzine had been on his way to a meeting at his mansion in Princeton between radio show host Don Imus and the Rutgers women's basketball team.
The driver of a red pickup truck that was blamed for the wreck was not charged for leaving the scene of the crash because the man said he was trying to make room for the governor's motorcade.
However, authorities said the investigation was not complete and other charges were possible. Investigators still want to interview Corzine, who remained on a ventilator, unable to speak.