Sponsored by

Local

Huckelberry making 'slow but steady progress' in hospital after being hit on bike

County administrator hospitalized in 'critical but stable' condition 10 days ago after vehicle hit him Downtown

Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry remains in the hospital after being hit while riding his bicycle 10 days ago, and is making "slow but steady progress" and his doctors "remain optimistic he will recover," his wife said.

Huckelberry had a "serious head injury and some broken ribs" after a vehicle ran into him Downtown on Saturday, Oct. 23, his family confirmed last week.

"Chuck is doing better. He's made slow but steady progress," his wife, Maureen Huckelberry, said in a message read aloud during a Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday by Chair Sharon Bronson.

"The nature of his injuries requires us to be patient and celebrate the small victories as they come each day," Maureen Huckelberry said. "I know there is a lot of curiosity about when he might return to work. Chuck's wonderful team of doctors remain optimistic that he will recover and be back in the office dictating those memos I know you all love to receive."

"Especially at 5 p.m. the Friday before a board meeting," Bronson added as a joking aside.

"Right now, we're focused on how Chuck is doing today and whether today was better than yesterday," Maureen Huckelberry said in her message. "On behalf of Chuck and our entire family, I want to share how appreciative and grateful we all are for the outpouring of support and concern for Chuck. It's been truly incredible and I am deeply touched to know how much he means to all of you."

Huckelberry was taken to the hospital after being knocked off his bicycle and critically hurt Oct. 23.

Huckelberry, 71, was admitted in "critical and stable" condition after a vehicle crashed into him while he was riding Downtown. His family and county officials have been keeping quiet about the severity of his injuries.

Thanks to our donors and sponsors for their support of local independent reporting. Join Steve Alley, Derrick Rickard, and Penelope Jacks and contribute today!

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. His wife has said he is "stable" and "getting wonderful and exceptional care."

"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 last week.

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 last week.

This follows a pattern used when Huckelberry has gone out of town on vacation, said county spokesman Mark Evans, who declined to "speculate" 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 last 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 Oct. 24, informing them of the crash that left Huckelberry in the hospital a day earlier, offered little information but did include promising hints at "a full recovery."

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.

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

Thanks to our donors and sponsors for their support of local independent reporting. Join Terry Cornelius, Paula Toffolo Paula Toffolo, and Stephen R. Johnston and contribute today!

The day after the crash, Lesher asked employees to share only the "accurate information we provide you through these eblast updates" with anybody outside the county who inquires "for 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.

- 30 -
have your say   

Comments

There are no comments on this report. Sorry, comments are closed.

Sorry, we missed your input...

You must be logged in or register to comment

Read all of TucsonSentinel.com's
coronavirus reporting here »

Click image to enlarge

Pima County

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