By Lynn Bartels
The Denver Post
POSTED: 03/02/2010 09:13:40 AM MST
UPDATED: 03/02/2010 08:14:39 PM MST
Gov. Bill Ritter will be held overnight and monitored at Denver Health Medical Center after suffering rib injuries in a bicycle accident early today, his spokesman said.
Ritter fractured five or six ribs in a bike crash early this morning, said spokesman Evan Dreyer.
“He is stable. He’s resting and doing OK,” Dreyer said at a 4 p.m. briefing to update the media on Ritter’s status.
“It’s a good thing he was wearing his helmet, because he did hit his head,” Dreyer said.
He said the governor “is still the governor,” but Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien has picked up some of his duties, including a Read Across America event this afternoon and a speech tomorrow about economic development.
“I will just read it word for word because that is not my area,” O’Brien said. “We’ve heard that broken ribs are really, really painful. And that he is going to be absolutely fine but every breath is painful. He is probably going to be in the hospital overnight and out tomorrow.”
O’Brien said people are joking with her about having to take over events for the governor, asking whether she will use that power for other executive orders such as pardoning prisoners.
“People are asking me who I want to let out of prison, but I tell them, ‘No, they got it all wrong. It’s who I want to lock up,'” O’Brien said, laughing.
Dreyer said Ritter is in good spirits.
His wife, Jeannie, was with him at the hospital this morning.
Ritter was in a group of five riders around 6 a.m. when he collided with one of the other cyclists near 23rd Avenue and High Street.
Dreyer said Ritter’s front tire made contact with the tire of a bicyclist in front of him.
The other cyclist received an injured wrist and was not taken to the hospital.
Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong heard about the governor’s accident and talked about it via Twitter:
“I hear my good friend and Colorado Governor Bill Ritter had a bike crash and broke some ribs. Gov, be careful!! Get well soon.”
Ritter rides two or three mornings a week with friends and last summer completed the ‘Triple Bypass’ race that covers 120 miles and three mountain passes between Evergreen and Avon.
Sandra Bartram, who lives a block from the intersection, was walking her dog early this morning when she saw “a commotion,” and thought it was a car accident.
“I didn’t see what happened, but the fire department was here and gone in just a few minutes,” she said, walking her dog again about 12 hours later. “I wondered why there were no cars.”
She did not see other cyclists in the area but said she watched from more than half a block away.
“I didn’t know it was anybody special,” she said.
Staff Writers Jeremy P. Meyer and Joey Bunch contributed to this report.