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Shurtleff prepares for second surgery

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Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has screws and rods in his heel and his left leg, and he's in traction.

"It's messed up. I really destroyed this leg," he said in an interview Tuesday with the Deseret Morning News from his hospital bed.

Shurtleff will undergo another surgery Thursday to repair his shattered lower leg, which he injured in a motorcycle crash last week. The attorney general was practicing for a ride to raise money for a memorial for fallen police officers by riding a Harley-Davidson Roadmaster, a "big ol' heavy bike," as he described it.

"I knew that I was going to have to practice, so I was taking my time. I went on some side-streets, I was practicing in a parking lot. I was a little shaky on the turning, but I felt OK," he said. "I didn't feel comfortable enough to get on the freeway, thank God."

Instead, he took State Street from Lindon. At an intersection, he said he pulled out into the road and hit something like a patch of gravel. It laid the bike down on top of him.

"My foot went down and it was just enough that it tipped the bike and it caught my foot. It twisted it around backwards, basically, and shattered all the bones in the lower leg," Shurtleff said.

Describing the break, he said his lower leg bones are "shards." It will be at least six to eight weeks before he is able to walk.

"I also tore the rotator cuff in my left shoulder, so crutches won't work," Shurtleff said. "I can barely scoot along in a walker."

Shurtleff said a motorcycle helmet he was wearing may have saved his life.

"It cut my head open above my eyebrow, so I had to have stitches. But I fear it would have been substantially worse if I didn't have a helmet on," he said. "Every doctor says, 'You're a politician right? You were wearing a helmet, now help us pass a helmet law."'

E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com