A CBS News correspondent seriously wounded by a car bomb that killed two colleagues in Iraq briefly regained consciousness during a flight to Germany, where she will be treated at a U.S. military hospital, the network said Tuesday.
Kimberly Dozier was being treated at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center for injuries to her head and legs and was in critical but stable condition, the “CBS Evening News” reported.
CBS said Dozier, a 39-year-old American, underwent two operations in Baghdad before being transferred to Landstuhl, the U.S. military’s largest medical facility abroad. Vice President Sandy Genelius told The Associated Press that Dozier was expected to stay at Landstuhl for several days.
“We are encouraged by reports from her doctors,” Genelius said. “Generally, it’s positive in that she’s certainly stable and the doctors are feeling more positive than they have been.”
Col. W. Bryan Gamble said Dozier was responsive during the flight, opening her eyes and moving her toes as she was transferred, but that it was too soon to speculate on her recovery.
“It’s really hard right now to ascertain how much of a recovery period she will need and what the extent of her rehabilitation will be, it’s really too early into the process of the trauma to know that right now,” Gamble said.
“She was critically wounded from the ... blast, but right now she is doing as well as can be expected,” he said, adding that Dozier was expected to undergo several other routine operations.
Medical officials are awaiting the arrival of her family, expected Wednesday, to decide when she would be transferred to the United States, Gamble said.
Dozier, along with cameraman Paul Douglas and soundman James Brolan were traveling in a U.S. military convoy working on a story about Memorial Day when a car bomb exploded. Douglas and Brolan, both British citizens, were killed. A U.S. soldier and an Iraqi translator also died in the blast.
The explosion occurred on the same day a series of blasts killed at least 40 people in Iraq and wounded dozens more in the worst wave of violence to hit Baghdad in days.
CBS News reported on its Web site that the three journalists were embedded with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division when a nearby car packed with explosives detonated, the network said. All three journalists were riding in an armored Humvee, CBS said, and were believed to have been wearing protective gear.
“Our deepest sympathy goes out to the families of Paul and James, and we are hoping and praying for a complete recovery by Kimberly,” CBS News President Sean McManus said in a statement.
‘Veterans of war coverage’
Douglas, 48, a British national based in London, had worked for CBS News since the early 1990s in places including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Rwanda and Bosnia. He is survived by his wife, two daughters and three grandchildren, CBS said.
Brolan, 42, who also was based in London, had worked with CBS News during the last year in Iraq and Afghanistan as a freelancer. The British citizen leaves behind his wife of 20 years, Geri, and two children — 18-year-old Sam and 12-year-old Agatha.
“James had a natural way with people and was always in demand as the person to go with to the world’s trouble spots; always putting the locals at ease, winning friends everywhere he went and always putting in his best effort,” his family said in a statement.
In addition to her time in Iraq, Dozier also had worked as the chief correspondent for WCBS-TV New York’s Middle East bureau in Jerusalem, and previously as London bureau chief and chief European correspondent for CBS Radio News.
Dozier graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College, majoring in human rights and Spanish, according to her biography on the CBS News Web site. She later earned a master’s degree in foreign affairs, specializing in the Middle East, from the University of Virginia.
McManus called the three “veterans of war coverage who proved their bravery and dedication every single day.” They always volunteered for dangerous assignments and were invaluable in our attempt to report the news to the American public.”
Victims of war
Dozens of journalists have been injured, killed or kidnapped in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Before Monday’s attack, the Committee to Protect Journalists had put the number of journalists killed in Iraq at 69. Of those, nearly three-quarters were Iraqis, the New York-based group said.
In January, ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt were injured while covering the war in Iraq. They were standing in the hatch of an Iraqi mechanized vehicle, reporting on the war from the Iraqi troops’ perspective, when a roadside bomb exploded. Both were wearing body armor, which doctors say likely saved their lives.
Woodruff, who co-anchored “World News Tonight” with Elizabeth Vargas, is still recovering from serious head injuries.
Other injuries in Iraq
Meanwhile, explosions killed two people in Baghdad and wounded seven on Tuesday as Iraq’s prime minister held meetings aimed at finding new defense and interior ministers.
A roadside bomb in southern Baghdad killed one police officer and wounded four. Elsewhere, police said a car loaded with mortar rounds and explosives exploded near the Interior Ministry, killing a man there and wounding three city workers on a soccer field, police Capt. Mohammed Abdul-Ghani said.
Police also found the bodies of three blindfolded and handcuffed men who had been tortured and shot in the head, apparent victims of the sectarian violence that has plagued Iraq since the February bombing of an important Shiite shrine.
Ministry posts still unfilled
Iraq’s parliament debated the deteriorating security situation in the capital and some of its outlying provinces, but failed to set up a commission to deal with the problem because of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s inability to appoint defense and interior ministers.
Al-Maliki said on Tuesday he will overrule squabbling parties in his coalition and present parliament with his personal nominees for two key cabinet posts if they fail to agree this week.
In an interview with Reuters 10 days after he named a cabinet without interior and defense ministers, Maliki said that if no consensus were found by the next session of parliament he would exercise his constitutional right to put his own nominees to a vote. Parliament is next due to meet on Sunday.
The Shiite-dominated Interior Ministry, which controls the police forces, has been promised to that community. Sunni Arabs are to get the defense ministry, overseeing the army.
It is hoped the balance will enable al-Maliki to move ahead with a plan for Iraqis to take on all security duties over the next 18 months. He wants to try to attract army recruits from among the Sunni Arab minority, which provides the core of the insurgency.