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Michele Obama in Iowa Accident

Hampton, Iowa -- A campaign van carrying the wife of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) collided with a motorcycle on a two-lane country road in central Iowa on Tuesday, sending the motorcyclist to the hospital.

No one in Michelle Obama's Chevrolet Uplander was hurt, despite the fact that the van was not drivable. The campaign suspended its final event of the day.

The wreck occurred on State Road 65 as Obama's two-car caravan headed to an event in a Franklin County park. As the van, driven by a campaign aide, started to make a left turn, a motorcycle that had been traveling in the same direction and rapidly passing cars on the left crashed into the van's left side.

As the van came to an abrupt halt, the Honda motorcycle careened off the road and down a small embankment, spilling parts and possessions.

The motorcyclist, 40-year-old Iowa Falls hydraulic mechanic Tim Emerson, landed on grass softened by three inches of weekend rain and lay still with a cut on his head. He was not wearing a helmet.

"He got in a little bit of a hurry and tried to go around everybody," said Mark Kellar, a friend of Emerson's riding another motorcycle. "I didn't believe he was going that way at an intersection. He went around two other cars that he shouldn't have."

Obama's staff called 911. Emerson remained conscious and lucid as police and paramedics arrived and lifted him onto a body board.

"Our only worry is that he's okay," said Tommy Vietor, the Obama campaign's Iowa spokesman. "We're going to end the day."

Forty people waited in a park shelter for more than 75 minutes while the Obama staffers gave statements to police.

When Obama appeared, she thanked everyone for waiting and said somberly, "We're a little shaken, but fortunately it could have been a lot worse."

Saying it was not the time to campaign, Obama promised to return.

"Hopefully the day will be as beautiful with a little less drama," Obama said. "I'm just going to shake hands and we'll see you in a better set of circumstances."

--Peter Slevin

By Washington Post editors  |  October 9, 2007; 6:03 PM ET
 
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