State Police declined to charge the 20-year-old driver of a pickup truck for leaving the scene of a crash that critically injured Gov. Jon Corzine because the man said he was trying to make room for the governor's motorcade.
However, authorities said Saturday they were leaving open the possibility the driver could face other charges, saying the investigation is not complete. Investigators still want to interview Corzine, who remained on a ventilator, unable to speak.
Surgery on the governor's injured leg was successful Saturday, and another operation was planned for Monday.
The pickup truck driver, who is blamed for Thursday night's wreck, told investigators he did not stop because he did not realize he was involved. The man's name was not released by state police because he was not charged.
"He hadn't any inkling that he contributed to it," New Jersey State Police Capt. Al Della Fave said. "That alleviates him of the responsibility of remaining at the accident scene. There's nothing he did here criminally. He did what he felt was the best he could."
Della Fave said the driver saw Corzine's motorcade with its flashing lights traveling in the left lane, and edged his pickup truck further to the right to give the official vehicles a wide berth.
In so doing, the red pickup's right wheels went onto the grassy highway shoulder, alarming the driver. He looked up to see a highway mile marker sign directly in front of him, and steered hard to the left to avoid hitting it.
That brought the red pickup back onto the roadway and into the path of a white pickup truck, which also swerved to the left to avoid the red truck. The white vehicle struck Corzine's sport utility vehicle, sending it careening into a guard rail.
The driver of the red truck was found Friday night at an Atlantic City casino where he works and interviewed by police. He was found using information from local police and leads generated from parkway surveillance cameras and toll information, police said.
The driver could not be located Saturday night at the casino where he works.
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 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.