Washington: After handing out diplomas during a graduation event at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado, President Joe Biden tripped on a sandbag and fell on stage, but the White House says “he’s fine”.
At the event on Thursday, Biden, who is the country’s oldest serving President at 80, had been standing for about an hour and a half to shake hands with each of the 921 graduating cadets, reports the BBC.
The stumble began as Biden was jogging away from centre stage. As he was moving toward his seat, he tripped, falling to the ground.
The president landed on his right hip before lifting himself up on his right hand, CNN reported.
A group of men, including an official with the Air Force Academy and two Secret Service agents, grasped onto Biden’s arms to help him back to his feet.
Footage of the incident showed the President appearing to point at one of two sandbags used to prop up his teleprompter as he was helped up by an Air Force official and two members of his Secret Service detail.
He was seen walking back to his seat unassisted and later jogging back to his motorcade when the ceremony ended shortly after the accident.
Addressing reporters after stepping off Marine One Thursday evening, the President joked and said, “I got sandbagged”.
“He’s fine. There was a sandbag on stage while he was shaking hands,” White House Communications Director Ben LaBolt wrote on Twitter.
At a regular press conference later in the day, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre further assured that Biden was feeling “totally fine” and had boarded the plane flashing “a big smile”.
Meanwhile, Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump reacted to the incident said said that “the whole thing is crazy”.
“I hope he wasn’t hurt… That’s not inspiring,” the BBC quoted Trump as saying from a campaign event in Iowa.
“You got to be careful about that because you don’t — you don’t want that. Even if you have to tip toe down the ramp,” Trump said, apparently referring to his own careful walk off a stage that made headlines in 2020.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis also reacted to the fall during a campaign event in New Hampshire, saying: “We hope and wish Joe Biden a swift recovery from any injuries he may have sustained.
“But we also wish the United States of America a swift recovery from the injuries it has sustained because of Joe Biden and his policies.”
Biden has had previous stumbles in public, including falling to the ground during a bike ride last year in Delaware and he was also been seen slipping on the stairs as he boards Air Force One, reports CNN.
Despite those incidents, Biden’s doctor has said is physically fit to serve in office.
In recent physicals, Biden’s doctor has examined the President’s stiff gait, determining it was a result of “wear and tear” changes on Biden’s spine.
The most recent physical determined the condition was unchanged, albeit with “possibly tighter hamstrings and calves”.