(AP) - Less than a week ago, Chris Dewey was in a medically induced coma here with gunshot wounds to the abdomen and head, but on Monday his surgeon said he was expecting to release the sheriff's deputy from the hospital in a few days.
Dewey is making remarkable progress, said Dr. Robert Sticca, one of Dewey's surgeon's at MeritCare Hospital, during a press conference. "He's now awake, talking, corresponding with his family," Sticca said.
Dewey's condition has been upgraded from guarded to satisfactory.
"We're all very optimistic about his condition. He's out of danger at the present time," Sticca said. "But he still has a long road ahead."
Dewey, 26, a Mahnomen County sheriff's deputy, was shot several times Wednesday morning while checking a report of shots fired in a Mahnomen neighborhood. Two Twin Cities-area men face multiple charges.
Family spokesman Paul Laney, the Cass County sheriff, said Dewey remembers what happened and has joked with visitors that he should have ducked to avoid the gunshots. Family members are ecstatic with his progress, Laney said.
"They're so excited about his progress so far and so thankful they're prayers have been answered," Laney said. "They feel it's nothing short of a miracle to come from where he was at Wednesday when he was brought in, to him standing and talking to them and joking with them.
"In their words, he's the same old Chris," Laney said.
Dewey will need at least one more surgery to repair his skull, and still has limited function of the upper left side of his body, Sticca said.
"We're hoping with intensive physical therapy, with rehabilitation efforts, that he will regain most, if not all, of that function," Sticca said.
Dewey has shown no ill effects from the abdominal wound, although he remains in serious pain from the brain injury, Sticca said. The surgeon would not predict the recovery time.
"He's a young, healthy individual. They do tend to recover better than we would expect," Sticca said.
Thomas Lee Fairbanks, 32, the alleged shooter, was charged with first-degree attempted murder and 20 other felony counts in the shooting of Dewey and the following standoff with officers. Daniel Kurt Vernier, 27, was charged with 16 felonies.
Sticca said Dewey was partially conscious and mumbling when he was taken to a Mahnomen hospital right after the shooting. The deputy was placed into a medically induced coma before he was transported to Fargo.
Laney said law enforcement considers Dewey as family and will be monitoring the court appearances of the two suspects.
"This was senseless and it was for no for reason whatsoever," Laney said. "I look forward to the day when those two stand before a judge and explain themselves. And yes, we will be there."
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)