Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was hiding a painful secret when he spoke to the media after last week's shooting deaths of five police officers in Dallas. The governor suffered severe burns on both of his legs in an accident while vacationing in Jackson Hole, Wyo., several hours before the Thursday shooting; his staff was preparing a public statement when the news from Dallas came through, the Austin American-Statesman reports. "His first words to us were, 'I've got to come back,'" says Matt Hirsch, Abbott's communications director. He says Abbott, who had second- and third-degree burns on both legs from being scalded with hot water, decided to keep news of the burns quiet to avoid distracting from what was happening in Dallas.
Hirsch says the governor decided to return to Texas against the advice of doctors, who warned that his wounds needed to be regularly dressed to prevent infection, the Dallas Morning News reports. "It was hugely important for him to be in Dallas the next day without regard to his well-being," he says. Abbott, 58, has used a wheelchair since a tree fell on him while he was jogging in 1984, crushing his spine, but he can still feel pain in his legs and feet, the New York Times notes. Abbott was supposed to lead the Texas delegation at the Republican National Convention next week, but Hirsch says the governor might now have to stay home. (A lot of other high-profile Republicans are skipping the convention.)