The soldier most severely wounded in the Fort Hood shooting rampage was hospitalized Saturday in Nevada after an unexpected injury, a possible setback to what doctors have called a miraculous recovery in the past 16 months.
Army Staff Sgt. Patrick Zeigler, 29, was on a ventilator after surgery to remove a blood clot, said Chris Haug, a Fort Hood spokesman. Zeigler was taken to the hospital Friday when he complained of headaches after falling in his Reno, Nev., hotel room, Haug said. Zeigler and his wife went to Reno for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation's convention, where the group presented the soldier with a free hunting trip planned for later this year.
Since being shot four times in the November 2009 rampage that left 13 people dead on the Texas Army post, Zeigler has had half a dozen surgeries that removed about 20 percent of his brain. He has been in and out of hospitals and rehabilitation centers, sometimes for six months at a time. He worked hard to walk again, and at his wedding reception in December, he put down his cane and danced slowly with his bride.
Since last fall, Zeigler has been assigned to the warrior transition brigade at Fort Hood, about 125 miles south of Fort Worth. But the effects of his recent injury are still not known.
"Our hearts are with Patrick and his family, and we hope he has a speedy recovery," Haug said Saturday.
The soldier's wife, Jessica Hansen Zeigler, did not immediately return calls or e-mails Saturday from The Associated Press.
She previously told the AP that his recovery had been "like a roller-coaster ride" _ rejoicing when he got out of his wheelchair for the first time and then worrying when he was hospitalized unexpectedly last summer following months of improvement.
Zeigler was among more than two dozen soldiers who testified last fall during an evidentiary hearing for Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the rampage. The military courtroom fell silent as Zeigler slowly walked in, leaning on his cane with each step, and sat down at the witness stand to answer questions.
Zeigler said he didn't remember much about that autumn day in 2009 when gunfire erupted in a Fort Hood medical building. He had recently returned from his second deployment in Iraq and was at Fort Hood for routine tests before heading to Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Ga. He testified that he knows soldiers helped him after he was shot, tried to crawl to safety and lost consciousness.
"I was in serious trouble. There was a pool of my own blood on the ground in front of me," Zeigler told the courtroom, a large scar visible across his head.
Two Army colonels involved in Hasan's case have recommended that he should stand trial and face the death penalty, but the final decision rests with a commanding general. Army officials have not said whether they will seek the death penalty if Hasan is court-martialed.