Senate Majority Leader Bernard Kenny says he was hit by a car, according to the Jersey Journal Political Insider column, which had the first interview with the Hudson County Democrat since his body "was discovered crumpled and bloody" on a Hoboken street during the early hours of July 18. Kenny called the Jersey Journal reporter, and the column is a must-read:
Kenny calls, grateful for every card of supportThe Jersey Journal,
Saturday, August 11, 2007
"W hat matters to me is that I'm alive – that I'll have time with my kids and that I'll still be able to do things in my life that were almost taken from me."
To the caller, this was the most important part of the conversation. It was partially what drove him to speak to me yesterday and it is now his entire focus for the next few months.
The voice on the other end of the line was slow but deliberate. At times it was very low and it sounded very much as if he was medicated. Yet, it was distinctive and recognizable.
Senate Majority Leader Bernard Kenny, D-Hoboken, was calling from the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine at the New York University Medical Center.
On July 18, a rainy Wednesday morning, Kenny was discovered crumpled and bloody on the 800 block of Bloomfield Street in Hoboken, near his house.
Kenny told police at the scene that he tripped and fell during his morning jog, but doctors later told investigators that the extent and location of his injuries were not "consistent" with a fall, sparking an investigation into the possibility that Kenny was a victim of a hit and run.
How did yesterday's conversation come about?
While on the telephone with another politician, my phone made that annoying sound warning that another caller was on the line. The intruder's numbers came on a screen. When the initial call was completed, the familiar numbers were tapped. It was Bernie.
"Did I call you?" he asked. "I thought I was answering your call."
Kenny's voice was clearly recognizable but sounded off a bit. Considering the police reports about the extent of his injuries, was Kenny on heavy medication?
"I'm always medicated – I'll be going into surgery in an hour and a half," he explained. "My right leg is in very bad shape. It goes in four different directions and they're going in. My other leg has a hairline fracture."
Kenny said his doctors talked to him extensively Thursday about the surgery. What was shocking was when the senator said there was the outside possibility of amputation below the knee. He felt confident that would not happen.
"I'll probably start moving with a walker and eventually a cane, but I'll have a limp for the rest of my life," he said.
Among the other injuries he received was a broken ear drum that was repaired with bone and cartilage, lost skin from his face, broken pelvis, five lateral fractures on his spine, a broken nose ("at the same place where I broke it years before") and various other head injuries.
"I have 28 'hot spots' on my body that they are concerned with," he said.
Why did Kenny decide to call this columnist? And why now?
"I feel a compulsion – I suffered a traumatic experience – I'm at the most important point in my life," he tried to explain. "I've received a couple of hundred cards, besides from friends and others I know, many from just regular people who are offering a lot of support.
"How I handle my recovery is very important. I just can't go into a shell. I want to make certain that I am always honest, straightforward and resolute."
Then what happened that fateful morning in the rain?
"I wasn't jogging," he said.
Kenny said he was on his way to a meeting on Washington Street.
"I was running late and stepped between two cars, but there was a depression with some gravel and I slipped and fell on all fours," he said. "I fell on the knuckles of my hands and severely scraped them.
"I don't really recall everything because it's fuzzy, but I sensed danger and pushed up on my knuckles, and that action probably saved my life. I can't be sure, but I believe a car turned the corner and probably didn't see me on my hands and knees when I was smacked – about 35 miles per hour. I practically just woke up at the (Jersey City) Medical Center."
He said he was unaware of the rumors and conspiracies that were being bandied about on how he was injured. Other than conversations with family and some friends, he has been out of touch with the outside world.
Kenny's 33rd District term in office is running out. He decided not to run in the June Democratic primary, which was won by Union City Mayor and Assemblyman Brian P. Stack. What is the incumbent's future with Trenton?
While insisting that he will be 100 percent focused on his recovery over the next 100 days, Kenny insists that he wants to finish his Senate term.
"It's important to me to complete my time as majority leader," he said.
The conversation ended when the senator said he would like to get some sleep before surgery.