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May 31, 2015 10:21 PM

Kerry breaks leg in bicycle crash; returning to US Monday

The Associated Press

GENEVA (AP) U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry broke his leg in a bicycle crash Sunday after striking a curb and scrapped the rest of a four-nation trip that included an international conference on combating the Islamic State group. He planned to return to the United States on Monday.

Kerry was staying overnight in a Swiss hospital overnight as a precaution, State Department spokesman John Kirby said, before flying to Boston for further treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital.

"The secretary continues to be in great spirits and active," Kirby said. "He has done a range of phone calls including with the president."

Kerry, 71, fractured his right femur after crashing his bike near Scionzier, France, about 40 kilometers southeast of the Swiss border.

Paramedics and a physician were on the scene with his motorcade at the time and provided him with immediate attention. They quickly decided to call in a helicopter to transport him to Geneva's main medical center, HUG, where X-rays confirmed the extent of his injury.

"The secretary is stable and never lost consciousness, his injury is not life-threatening and he is expected to make a full recovery," Kirby said in an earlier statement.

The Dauphine Libere, a local newspaper, said Kerry fell near the beginning of his ride to the famed mountain pass called the Col de la Colombiere, which has been a route for the Tour de France more than a dozen times.

Right around the time of his fall, a Twitter feed about local driving conditions warned of the danger due to gravel along the pass. But U.S. officials said there was no gravel on the road where the accident occurred.

According to the newspaper, some Haute Savoie officials were with Kerry at the time, including the head of the region.

Kerry's regular plane flew back from Geneva to the United States on Sunday, carrying much of his staff and reporters who had accompanied him on the trip.

The secretary of state planned to board a plane later in the day with special medical equipment "to ensure he remains comfortable and stable throughout the flight," Kirby said. But on the advice of doctors, Kerry remained in Geneva's hospital another night.

Kerry decided to seek treatment in Boston because the fracture is near the site of his earlier hip surgery. Kirby said he'd be attended to by the same doctor who performed that operation.

Kerry's cycling rides have become a regular occurrence on his trips. He often takes his bike with him on the plane and was riding that bicycle Sunday.

During discussions in late March and early April between world powers and Iran, Kerry took several bike trips during breaks. Those talks were in Lausanne, Switzerland, and led to a framework agreement.

Kerry had been in Geneva for six hours of meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Saturday as the sides now work to seal a comprehensive accord by June 30.

The prospect of a lengthy rehabilitation could hamper the nuclear talks and other diplomatic endeavors. Even if Kerry does not need surgery, it was not immediately known when he could fly again after returning to the United States.

Kerry has been the lead negotiator in several marathon sessions with Iran going back to 2013. The injury could affect other potential missions, such as one to the Cuban capital to raise the flag at a restored U.S. Embassy.

As for his current trip, Kerry was scheduled to travel to Madrid on Sunday for meetings with Spain's king and prime minister, before spending two days in Paris for an international gathering to combat the Islamic States.

He will participate in the Paris conference remotely, Kirby said, while Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken will replace him. John Allen, the retired general who is President Barack Obama's envoy for the global coalition against the extremist group, also is attending.


Associated Press writer Lori Hinnant in Paris contributed to this report.


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