HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — In a story Jan. 20 about a car crash involving a Connecticut state senator, The Associated Press erroneously reported the date of the crash. It happened Jan. 14, not Dec. 14.
A corrected version of the story is below:
Crash spurs new questions about lawmaker with brain injury
Stonington state senator working to recover from serious 2014 brain injury faces new queries about his health following car crash
By SUSAN HAIGH
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut state senator who has been working to recover from a traumatic brain injury he suffered in a 2014 fall faces new questions about his health following a recent car crash in which police say he was driving the wrong way.
Waterford Police Lt. David Burton said Sen. Andrew Maynard was driving south in a northbound lane of Route 32 on Jan. 14 when his car struck an SUV and careened down an embankment. He was unconscious when emergency crews arrived and his air bag had deployed.
The Stonington Democrat spent four days in the hospital. Friend and attorney Robert Reardon said Maynard suffered a serious concussion and is now resting at home. He said Maynard, who has not yet spoken with police, doesn't remember the crash. It is unclear how Maynard's latest injuries might affect his efforts to recover from the fall off an outside staircase at his home.
"I would like to think that once he gets his rest and recuperation and heals from his concussion, he will be at least where he was before the most recent accident," Reardon said. While his speech has improved, Reardon said his friend still occasionally forgets his words. Maynard's family has said he suffered aphasia, a communication disorder caused by damage to parts of the brain that control language.
The car crash comes as state lawmakers prepare for a new session of the General Assembly, which opens Feb. 3. Reardon said Maynard, 53, told him he wants to be on hand for opening day.
Maynard's local newspaper, The Day of New London, has questioned whether Maynard is up for the job, noting how its reporters have been unable to interview the senator. Just before last week's car accident, a columnist at the newspaper said he hadn't spoken to anyone, including Maynard's Senate colleagues, who could report having had a meaningful conversation with Maynard since his fall. The column suggested Maynard might be a "puppet politician" of the Senate's majority Democrats who don't want to lose the seat to a Republican.
Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said he feels badly for Maynard. He suggested his colleague could "put the rumors to rest" by speaking to the media to "reassure the public that he's capable of handling the duties of the Capitol."
Months after his 2014 accident, Maynard easily won re-election to a fifth two-year term despite being unable to campaign because of his injuries. Popular among his colleagues, he later received a standing ovation when he walked into the Senate last January for the first time. While the Senate Democrats said he recorded a vote in 92 percent of all Senate votes taken, Maynard, the co-chairman of the legislature's busy Transportation Committee, attended few committee meetings during the last session.
"It is not a secret that Andy continues to work on his speech, which was impaired after the fall at his home in 2014," said Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven. "However, he has ably and dutifully represented his district and his principles in the Senate circle."
Reardon noted that Maynard had attended a Senate Democratic caucus meeting in Hartford on the day of the recent car crash.
"From the time that the accident first occurred, his prognosis was very worrisome. None of us really knew if he was going to survive the accident, when we first were informed of it," Reardon said, referring to the 2014 fall. "He came back and he worked very hard with therapists and speech therapy. He eventually made such progress that he continued on with his career."
Reardon said Maynard had been driving regularly for months.
Burton said police will likely interview Maynard sometime next week, after he's had more time to recuperate. A reconstruction of the accident is not planned, he said, because there was not a fatality or serious injury. The driver of the SUV, who initially refused medical treatment, reported having neck and back pain the next day.
It's questionable whether Maynard will face any charges. Burton said police are looking at any mitigating circumstance for the crash, such as weather or a medical condition.
"If it's a medical condition, that's beyond an operator's control," he said. "We're not going to cite them."