PRINCETON, N.J. – Jon S. Corzine resumed his duties as governor Monday, nearly a month after a high-speed crash on the Garden State Parkway almost killed him.
He can walk again, but only slowly and with special crutches, and he plans to work from the governor's mansion by videoconference at first rather than trying to return to the Statehouse.
The governor's State Police-driven SUV had been going 91 mph as Corzine did paperwork in the front passenger seat when it crashed April 12, breaking Corzine's leg, 11 ribs, his collarbone and his sternum. He underwent three surgeries on the leg and was on a ventilator for more than a week.
In an interview aired Monday on NBC's "Today" show, Corzine said his rib cage caused him the most pain.
He also reiterated that he was to blame for not wearing a seat belt, as required by state law. Last week, he voluntarily paid a $46 fine for the violation.
"Other than buckling up, I think the biggest lesson, and it is the overwhelming one, is there's tremendous good in this world," the governor said.
Corzine said he decided to get back to work this week after speaking Friday with doctors and lawyers. Senate President Richard J. Codey had assumed the role of acting governor while Corzine recovered, just as he had after the resignation of Corzine's predecessor, James E. McGreevey, in 2004.
Since Corzine doesn't expect to conduct any ceremonial events any time soon, he will focus on policy initiatives as he recovers at Drumthwacket, the governor's mansion in Princeton.
The state budget must be completed by the Legislature by early July, and a possible proposal to lease state assets, such as toll roads, to pay down debt is on the table.
Corzine stressed that he will have to balance work with recovering from his injuries. He is undergoing intensive physical therapy, and exercise equipment has been installed in the mansion's second-floor living area. A portable chair lift was brought in to help him navigate steps.
At the time of the crash, Corzine's was headed to a meeting with radio show host Don Imus and members of the Rutgers women's basketball team. He said he wasn't paying attention to his driver's speed, but he praised him and another state trooper for shielding him from a fire in the SUV that was quickly extinguished.
Corzine said Saturday that he doesn't remember much about the accident, other than recalling that he was working on papers when it occurred.
He said he feared he might die, recalling that he was in horrible pain on the medical helicopter that took him to the hospital in Camden.