A day after doctors removed the ventilator that had aided his breathing, Gov. Corzine was awake and able to talk with his family and drink small amounts of clear liquids, the New Jersey Governor's Office said yesterday afternoon.

Also yesterday, investigators were looking into an allegation that Corzine's driver may have been using a phone or mobile e-mail device before the crash.

Corzine was still listed in critical but stable condition at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, most likely reflecting the unknowns that lie ahead as he heals from a high-speed crash 10 days ago.

"Gov. Corzine continues to make progress," trauma head Steven E. Ross said in a statement released by the governor's office at 3 p.m. "The fluid drainage around his lungs has decreased."

Ross said the governor was "showing some signs of tracheo-bronchitis and is being effectively treated with antibiotics." He is receiving physical therapy at bedside.

The governor's office has tightly controlled the release of information about his condition, and his injuries are so severe - fractures of the breastbone, collarbone, 11 ribs, upper left leg bone and more - that outside experts say it is difficult to draw conclusions about his progress.

But the 10-paragraph statement yesterday cautiously suggested improvement.

Police investigating the Corzine crash are now looking into an allegation that Trooper Robert Rasinski may have been communicating with his girlfriend's estranged husband while driving the governor.

Davy Jones, president of the State Troopers Fraternal Association, told the Star-Ledger of Newark that investigators want to know whether Rasinski was on his phone or exchanging mobile e-mail while he was driving Corzine, or just before.

The accusation, Jones said, involves an e-mail the man, described as a Union County police office, sent Rasinski about the same time as the crash.

View medical condition updates via http://go.philly.com/healthEndText

Contact staff writer Mari A. Schaefer at 610-892-9149 or mschaefer@phillynews.com.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.