Life Changing

Former Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry sits down for first interview since his life-changing accident

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) – On Oct. 23, 2021, Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry was struck by a car while riding a bicycle in downtown Tucson with some friends on a Saturday morning.

The accident left him with broken bones, a punctured lung and a serious brain injury.

It also prompted him to resign his position with the county after more than four decades.

“A vehicle hit me from behind,” Huckelberry told KOLD News 13. “I was third in line. And it didn’t, it was an accident.’ “It was a freak accident,” finished his wife Maureen, who’s on hand in case Huckelberry loses words or thoughts.

“That’s right,” he said.

Although ii was his first interview since the accident, he finished his sentences and thoughts without much prompting.

But he’s still going through some intensive rehabilitation.

“It’s mostly walking,” he said.

He walks with a fairly slow gait these days, he has a slight limp and uses a pole for assistance.

“It’s a cane. I use it but I don’t really need it,” he said. “But I feel better with it.”

Huckelberry spent his Sunday morning in Brandi Fenton Park on River Road with about 150 friends and well-wishers who were celebrating the one-year anniversary of his arduous rehabilitation.

Many of them were from the bicycling community, the Greater Arizona Bicycling Association, who came to praise Huckelberry for his legacy “The Chuck Huckelberry Loop” an internationally known bike loop of 120 miles encompassing Tucson.

“How many thousands of people, tens of thousands, in Southern Arizona, owe the improvement to their lifestyle to Chuck Huckelberry,” said long-time friend David Yetman, who has known him since 1976.

Those tens of thousands of bicyclists and walkers use the loop for health purposes every day.

Even though it bears his name and has taken 30 years to complete, Huckelberry is reluctant to take credit for it.

“The 1983 floods gave us the opportunity to put in lots of bank protection and with bank, protection goes the river park system,” he said. “You have the opportunity to build in recreational activities and people use it for more than flood control.”

Even with the tragic crash, Huckelberry said he’s anxious to get back on a bicycle again.

“I’d be back out riding if I could actually get on a bike and could balance myself,” he said.

Maureen said part of his rehab is working on balancing issues.

As for the accident itself and the aftermath, Huckelberry doesn’t remember much.

“I got hit about a year ago and I probably don’t even remember talking to people for six months,” Huckelberry said. “I was just kind of out of it.”

“I try to remember it, but I can’t,” he said. “I don’t remember what happened, why I was there, how long I was there.”

He also appears to have a pretty sharp long-term memory, but short-term is still an issue according to his wife.

Maureen said he will remember things they did when they were first married more than 40 years ago, but forget what she told him they are doing today.

While most people at 72 years old would like to slow down and retire, that’s not in the books for him.

“I think once I get recovered 100% I think, I think I wouldn’t want to go back to the county and displace anyone but if there’s something they want done, I’d be happy to do it,” he said.

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