TRENTON, N.J. – The state trooper who was at the wheel during Gov. Jon S. Corzine's near-fatal SUV crash is once again ferrying the governor even though he faces a suspension for his role in the wreck.
Corzine told WCBS radio in New York on Tuesday that he is "absolutely confident" in Trooper Robert Rasinski — "so confident that he drove for me on Saturday."
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. A letter released last week did not specify which rules were broken.
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."
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.
While Rasinski did not receive a summons, Corzine did — for failing to buckle his seat belt. He paid a $46 fine. Corzine broke 15 bones and spent 18 days in the hospital, eight on a ventilator. He had been walking on crutches but recently was able to switch to a cane.
"I'm moving around," Corzine told WCBS. "I'm not out jogging or anything at this stage, but ... the doctors tell me I'm doing very well."
Rasinski and a Corzine aide suffered minor injuries.
Corzine has released a public service announcement urging people to wear seat belts and said Tuesday he would continue to concentrate on traffic safety.