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Huckelberry had 'serious head injury' & broken ribs after being hit while riding bike, family says

County administrator was hospitalized in 'critical but stable' condition after vehicle hit him Downtown

Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry remains in the hospital with a "serious head injury and some broken ribs" after being hit while riding his bicycle this weekend, his family confirmed Tuesday.

"He is stable and making slow progress," his wife, Maureen Huckelberry, said.

"He is getting wonderful and exceptional care by his team of medical professionals," she said in a statement relayed by county officials Tuesday afternoon.

Huckelberry was taken to the hospital after being knocked off his bicycle and critically hurt Saturday. His family and county officials have been keeping quiet about the severity of his injuries.

Huckelberry, 71, was taken to a local hospital and admitted in "critical and stable" condition Saturday after a vehicle crashed into him while he was riding Downtown.

It's unknown how long Huckelberry's injuries may keep him in the hospital, or when he will be able to return to his desk. It's unclear if he is still listed in critical condition.

The few details provided Tuesday confirmed rumors about Huckelberry having suffered serious head trauma that have swirled among the county's political class since Saturday.

"More updates on Mr. Huckelberry's recovery will be released as warranted, but the family can't commit to the frequency of those updates at this time," county officials said Tuesday.

"We want to thank everyone who has been sharing their well-wishes about Chuck and their hopes for his speedy recovery," Maureen Huckelberry said Tuesday. "The outpouring of concern, love and respect for him is overwhelming and has really helped our family in this difficult time."

Under Pima's "continuity of operations" plan, Chief Deputy County Administrator Jan Lesher is the acting top staffer for the county, a spokesman told the Tucson Sentinel on Monday.

This follows a pattern used when Huckelberry has gone out of town on vacation, said county spokesman Mark Evans, who declined to "speculate" Monday on when Huckelberry might be able to return to work.

No detailed information about Huckelberry's injuries has been released by local authorities, despite questions from Tucson Sentinel and other local news organizations.

Huckelberry's family had put out a short statement Monday afternoon:

"Chuck was riding his bike with friends Saturday morning. He’s an experienced and avid rider and he was doing everything right: Helmet, gloves, colorful “Loop” jersey, no earphones (ever), riding prudently and totally focused on having a fun and safe ride. But as too often happens to cyclists, bad luck prevailed. He was knocked off his bike downtown and needed prompt emergency care. The medics of Tucson Fire responded quickly and professionally, as did the Tucson Police Department. We are immensely grateful to them for the care and kindness that they provided. We also thank everyone who has respected our wish for privacy in these initial days of his treatment and recovery."

'Full recovery' hints

An internal email to Pima County employees sent on Sunday, informing them of the crash that left Huckelberry in the hospital a day earlier, offered little new information but did include promising hints at "a full recovery."

Huckelberry remained in critical but stable condition in a local hospital after he was struck by a vehicle while riding his bicycle in downtown Tucson on Saturday morning.

Huckelberry was struck by a vehicle that was involved in a collision with another vehicle at the intersection of Broadway/Congress and Church Avenue, sources with knowledge of the incident told TucsonSentinel.com. That vehicle "ricocheted" into Huckelberry and his bike.

The county put out a brief notice on the crash Saturday saying Lesher and Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bronson were in close contact with Huckelberry's family.

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Bronson declined to discuss Huckelberry's status with TucsonSentinel.com.

Huckelberry, who will be 72 next month, is an avid cyclist. The Chuck Huckelberry Loop, a popular path for cyclists, is named for him.

On Sunday, Lesher asked employees to share only the "accurate information we provide you through these eblast updates" with anybody outside the county who inquires "(f)or his and his family's sake."

"At this time, the best that I can tell you is that his injuries are serious but we're hopeful for a full recovery," she wrote. "I will share information with you all as circumstances warrant."

The email to staffers also offered a link where they can send Huckelberry "your best wishes for his speedy recovery or other well wishes… We are compiling them for Chuck and will provide them to him upon his return to work."

Bronson told the Tucson Sentinel that she suggests, instead of people sending flowers with well-wishes to the hospital, that Huckelberry would appreciate it if they "send native seeds of flowers that can be planted along the Loop."

Although not an elected official, Huckelberry has become during his long tenure one of the most politically powerful individuals in Southern Arizona.

A Tucson native who began working for the county in 1974, he is the top administrator for that local government, hired to carry out the policies determined by the elected Board of Supervisors. He was named county administrator in 1993.

Pima County has about 7,300 employees and an annual budget of $2.1 billion. Huckelberry's base salary is $292,000.

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Pima County

Huckelberry in jaguar-themed riding gear at the 2016 dedication of the Loop, which has now been named after him.