Briefly prime minister in 2005-2004, Pedro Santana Lopes and Aliança colleague and candidate in the upcoming European elections Paulo Sande had a lucky escape yesterday late afternoon when the car they were travelling in careered off the A1 motorway, reportedly turning “several times”.
Paulo Sande managed to exit the wreckage by himself, but 62-year-old Santana Lopes – embroiled in a keen election campaign for his party that ‘broke away’ from the traditional centre-right PSD – had to wait for emergency response personnel to cut him free.
He is understood to have suffered a certain degree of chest trauma, but is expected to be released from hospital later this morning.
Reports suggest the accident may have resulted from ‘tiredness’. Both men had been up since 5am on ‘another gruelling day’ on the elections trail.
They had woken up in the Azores, taken an early flight to the mainland, and basically ploughed through a packed day before heading back towards Lisbon.
The accident happened on a stretch of road immediately following roadworks.
First response saw a helicopter actioned to fly Santana Lopes 20 kms to the nearest hospital (Coimbra), which has seen a degree of criticism in the press for the fact that helicopters are not meant to be actioned for ‘non urgent cases’, and certainly not when a hospital is so close-by .
INEM has since justified the use of the chopper, suggesting Santana Lopes received the kind of treatment anyone else would have received who appeared to be suffering “signs of disorientation and confusion”.
Paulo Sande, “less hurt” by his own admission, was transported to the same hospital by ambulance.
For today, Aliança’s Euro Elections campaign has been halted, but it’ll be back to business tomorrow, with fellow politicians across the board wishing both men speedy recoveries.