Doctors: Amtrak conductor faces long recovery after shooting
Amtrak conductor Michael Case suffered "very significant intestinal injuries" when he was shot Tuesday in Naperville and faces a long recovery ahead, his doctors said Friday.
When Case arrived at Edward Hospital in Naperville about 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, Trauma Medical Director Dr. David Piazza said he was "cold, clammy and in a slightly altered mental status."
The 45-year-old Homewood man expressed his love for his wife of nine years, Sara, in a phone call with her, then went into six hours of surgery to repair multiple organs damaged by a bullet that struck him in the abdomen.
"He just said to me, 'I love you, I love you, I love you,' and that's the last I actually have heard his voice or was able to talk to him," Sara Case said from the hospital Friday afternoon.
Three days after being shot, Case remained in critical condition Friday, Piazza said. He is on a ventilator and under sedation, able to wake up only during brief reprieves when doctors decrease his sedation.
Case's care required the skills of two trauma surgeons and a surgical specialist because the bullet that struck him damaged his pancreas and a region of the intestines called the duodenum, Piazza said.
"The intestine itself was devastated in that area where a lot of things come together," Piazza said. "The fortunate thing was the vessels close to the area were not severely damaged."
Case, whose wife said he has been working for Amtrak for 10 years, was on the platform at the 5th Avenue train station in Naperville as the train on which he was working stopped Tuesday afternoon.
Passenger Edward Klein, a 79-year-old retired federal law enforcement officer from West Allis, Wisconsin, has been charged with attempted murder and aggravated battery in connection with the shooting. Prosecutors say Klein fired one bullet from a .38-caliber Smith and Wesson revolver out an open window of the train into Case's body.
"You never think your husband is going to go to work and be shot," his wife said.
Case is a Navy veteran who served aboard a submarine in the early 1990s and was primarily based in Virginia, his wife said. Before joining Amtrak, he also worked as a teacher at a private school in Chicago. Case's wife said he always has stayed in shape, running or going to the gym three or four times a week and eating well.
The couple has four children, two girls and two boys, including Isabella Griffin, 19, who wore Case's Cubs jacket at his bedside Friday, and called him "the backbone of our family."
"We have to give him everything," Griffin said, "when he usually gives everything he has for us."
The doctors who resuscitated Case, drained the 1.5 liters of blood that had spilled into his abdomen from the shooting, replaced it with 6 liters of donated blood and continue to oversee his treatment hope the slight signs of progress they've seen in his medical indicators continue as time passes.
"His injuries are stabilized, but the body's response to injury is still going," Piazza said. "We are moving in the right direction."