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Differing accident accounts raise questions

| Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane releases a special report on the Sandusky investigation Monday, June 23 in Harrisburg, Pa.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane releases a special report on the Sandusky investigation Monday, June 23 in Harrisburg, Pa.

HARRISBURG

Ten days after her accident in a state Chevrolet Tahoe, Attorney General Kathleen Kane's office released a police report on the Oct. 21 incident in Dunmore, Lackawanna County.

Kane, 48, the state's chief law enforcement officer and from nearby Clarks Summit, suffered a concussion, her office said. The driver, Kane and another security officer in the car were examined at a hospital after Kane's vehicle hit a parked Jeep Cherokee, Kane's office said. The police report said two were injured.

The police report indicated all three were wearing seat belts. Kane, sitting in the back seat, wasn't wearing her belt and that's how she hit the back of the front seat and got the concussion, her spokeswoman, Renee Martin, said. The police report was wrong and was corrected, Martin said. Police said it was a “clerical mistake” and stood by the rest of the report.

The accident happened at 6:55 a.m.

The timing and facts of the accident don't add up.

The speed limit was 15 mph, according to the police report. The report indicated the accident's cause was “distracted driving” — not speeding. The agent dropped his iPad, Martin said, and he bent to pick it up.

The Tahoe made a right-hand turn onto Chestnut Street and struck the parked vehicle.

How do you get a concussion going 15 mph? I'm not saying that's impossible. It seems unlikely.

“I assure you there's no conspiracy,” Martin said.

Why wait 10 days to release information on an accident that caused a head injury to the state's chief prosecutor?

“It's certainly not an unfair question to ask why it took so long for the public to be notified,” said G. Terry Madonna, political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College. “I think we should have been notified. It's not like she did anything wrong. She was a passenger.”

Martin said the office did so to get it out after reporters started asking about it.

Would a governor be justified in waiting 10 days to tell Pennsylvanians he was in an accident in a vehicle driven by state police? And that he suffered a concussion?

It's a question about being able to perform duties of the office.

Both state agents in the car are former Dunmore cops; one is the former chief, Patrick Reese. The driver was Agent Robert Ruddy.

Another question: Why does Kane need two security officers? Former AGs have typically had one — a driver.

Where were they going that they were passing through Dunmore before 7 a.m.? And where was the ultimate destination? Martin said she didn't know.

The accident is creating a buzz at the Capitol and among folks in Scranton.

There's a fundamental right to know if the attorney general is healthy. I certainly hope she is.

But where's the transparency Kane promised?

Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media's state Capitol reporter (717-787-1405 or bbumsted@tribweb.com).

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