Steve Scalise returns home, recounts his attack & recovery
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - With the help of crutches, Congressman Steve Scalise slowly walks, something he couldn't do just a few weeks ago. He returned home to Louisiana Friday.
"Just to be home, the things I haven't been able to do for over three months while I was in the hospital..to finally be free and out, and get back to work again and be around my colleagues.. it really feels great," Scalise said.
On Saturday he tweeted, "Jennifer and I just voted early in Jefferson Parish." Saturday night he tweeted from LSU, "There's no place like home" #TigerStadium.
"When they brought us out on the field, it was just a thunderous applause, and then they starting chanting USA, and Jennifer and I were almost teared up it was just a you know, just a you know raw emotional feeling that was just so special," Scalise explained.
He felt love and warmth from the thousands in the crowd just as he has since his life changed a little over three months ago, on June 14th, 2017.
He remembers that morning clearly.. it was early, around 7 a.m. Just outside of Washington D.C., he and other Republican lawmakers were practicing for a charity Congressional baseball game. Scalise was on second base when gunfire rang out.
"The first thing I heard was some kind of noise, and I looked at where the noise was coming from by the third base, and all I saw was a tractor so I'm thinking maybe the tractor back-fired or something," Scalise said.
At first, he didn't once think someone was shooting at them. "Then all of a sudden another shot came out and another shot, and you knew it was a shooter, and by then I was hit, and I went down, and at that point I just started crawling away from where the shooter was, his position. I never saw him, but I heard the noise, and after a little while, my arms gave out and you know at that point, I just started praying," Scalise said.
It was at that point, he relied on his faith to carry him through. "I prayed that my daughter doesn't have to walk down the aisle alone. I prayed that I could see my wife and kids again, and it was realizing the severity of what was going on, and you know I knew I was hit.. I didn't know how bad. I knew there was a chance I could be hit again, I just put it in God's hands, and it really gave me a sense of calm during that period," he said.
Soon, he knew his security detail had engaged the shooter. He could hear a different caliber weapon. "Both the capitol police officers that were with me that day David (Bailey) and Crystal (Griner) both got hit, and continued to engage the shooter, and ultimately helped bring him down and surely saved my life and saved a lot of other lives too," Scalise said.
Their actions, Scalise believes, was one of many miracles that day. Another one was Brad Wenstrup, an Ohio Congressman, who's also a doctor. He noticed the bullet didn't exit Scalise's body, which meant he likely had internal injuries and bleeding. "He immediately wanted to apply a tourniquet and luckily there was one available, and he applied it and the doctors say number one it was applied perfectly, but if he didn't do that I would have bled out before I made it to the hospital," Scalise explained.
Before he was rushed to a top-level trauma center, he told a colleague to grab his phone and call his wife, Jennifer. While doctors worked to stop the bleeding, repair the internal injuries and essentially put him back together, he laid unconscious for three days.
"Ultimately the reconstruction of my hip, my femur that had been shattered, my pelvis that was broken.. they shored that up on the second day, and ultimately that's what allowed me to be able to learn how to walk again, weeks and months later," Scalise said.
After several surgeries, he's spent weeks learning how to walk again, and on Thursday, walked out on the House floor and addressed Congress. "I'm definitely a living example miracles really do happen. The first place I want to go to thank true angels along the way, starts with the United States Capitol Police," Scalise told his colleagues.
Through all of this, he says he never questioned himself. Instead, he's had incredible strength and attributes that to the thousands of kind messages he's received from home, across the country and beyond.
"Bono from U2 is mentioning me at his concerts, and he came to my office and he called me and we talked for a long time and that just I think struck me in a different way that this went beyond you know an individual that was injured. It was you know people saw this as an attack on Congress, on all of us," Scalise said.
Scalise hopes to one day walk without crutches, but realizes that's going to take months of rehab. For now, he'll use a special scooter his wife decked out Louisiana style to make it around the capitol. It won't be easy, but he's committed to getting better while being a husband, a father, and the U.S. House Majority Whip, the number three most powerful man in Congress.
Congressman Scalise heads back to Washington Monday where he'll attend his first Whip meeting since the shooting.
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