Senate Finance Chairman Blair recovers from serious wreck, says he’ll be back

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Senate Finance Chairman Craig Blair will likely miss the start of the legislative session after breaking his nose and dislocating his hip in a traffic accident.

“I don’t think it’s realistic, but if I can be there I will be there. I can’t move right now. I can’t get up and move,” Blair, R-Berkeley, said in a telephone call from his room at Charleston Area Medical Center’s General Hospital.

The annual legislative session gavels in Wednesday, and the governor will deliver his State of the State address that evening.

Blair was already in town preparing for the session when the accident happened about 1:30 p.m. Saturday in the Kanawha City area of Charleston.

He had just left a Subway sandwich shop, where he was trying to get a tuna sandwich and drive back to the Capitol in his F150.

He was on 36th Street, which is a one-way street over the Kanawha River and onto Interstate 64, when another vehicle in the right lan cut him off while trying to turn left without a turn signal.

“They’re turning and I see them turning and I’m turning to avoid T-boning them,” Blair said.

Blair wound up taking the worst of it because he hit a concrete barrier. The police report says the front end of the F150 sustained heavy damage and had to be towed away.

“Nobody got hurt. But it pushed me into the concrete pylons there that keeps people from running into the Kanawha River,” Blair said.

No one in the other vehicle was injured, according to the police report. That vehicle did not have to be towed.

Blair came away not only with injuries but also with some highway engineering advice.

“I’ve got a suggestion for whoever,” he said. “They need to put those white posts up on that bridge so people can’t make cross traffic left turns there.”

Blair was being prepped for surgery on Monday morning. That’s when he normally would have been at regularly-scheduled interim meetings.

“I’ll be down for a little while,” he said.

Blair, 60, owns a small business in the Martinsburg area. He was first elected to the House of Delegates in 2002 and then was elected to the Senate in 2012. He was named chairman of the Senate Finance Committee in 2017.

In the hospital, he said he’s been treated to kindness.

He got a tuna sandwich at the hospital to replace the one he lost. Both Republicans and Democrats have wished him a speedy recovery. Senate President Mitch Carmichael stopped in to see him on Sunday evening while he was on the phone.

“All the texts and emails and phone calls from Republicans, Democrats, everybody has been tremendous,” Blair said. “I like everybody. We can fight over the issues but we’re all still West Virginians.”

During a panel discussion on Friday, the day before the wreck, Blair had said his goal was to get a balanced budget out by the end of the 60-day legislative session.

From his hospital bed, he said that’s still likely to happen because Finance staff has been working diligently and because he’s been able to plan ahead with House Finance Chairman Eric Householder, another Republican from Martinsburg.

“I’m counting on it. May not happen, but you’ve got to have goals. Goal is to get it out,” he said.

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