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Nitro cop hit by car improving at CAMC

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Nitro police officer remained in critical condition Friday after being hit by a car, but was showing signs of recovery, his colleagues said.

Officer James "Jimmy" Lee, 25, was hit by a car while directing traffic near Cross Lanes Drive and 40th Street at about 5:30 p.m. Thursday, according to a Kanawha County Metro 911 dispatcher. Lee apparently was motioning traffic to drive around a van with a flat tire when he was struck from behind.

Lee was rushed to CAMC General Hospital with severe head injuries. He remained in critical condition in the hospital's intensive care unit Friday.

Nitro Police Capt. W.E. Javins said Lee was recovering from emergency surgery Friday evening to alleviate a blood clot on his brain. That clot was successfully removed, but Lee's skull is still fractured, Javins said.

Lee also has bruising to his lungs, which is not severe, but which doctors believe could develop into pneumonia, Javins said.

Lee is being administered nerve tests every two hours. During a test at 1:30 p.m. Friday, Lee wiggled all 10 toes, opened both eyes and gave two thumbs up, Javins said.

"He's responding so well, and his brain is responding well," Javins said. "Doctors say it's a miracle, based on the type of injuries he received."

Nitro Mayor Rusty Casto estimated that Lee was thrown about 60 feet by the impact of the collision.

Javins said Lee's family stayed all night in the hospital's waiting room and described Lee's wife, Morgan, as a "good woman."

"She is so strong through all of this. I keep looking for her to break down at any moment but she hasn't," Javins said. "She is staying strong for him."

Javins said police officers, paramedics and firefighters have been a mainstay in the hospital's waiting room. People just show up in the waiting room to extend their prayers to Lee's family.

"The support has been awesome," he said. "We're asking anybody to pray for Jimmy and his family."

Police said the driver of the vehicle remained at the scene of the incident and was cooperating with the investigation. Kanawha County sheriff's deputies were reconstructing the scene of the incident Friday.

Lee was hired by the Nitro Police Department in January and graduated from the West Virginia State Police Academy in April.

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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