March 2005 to
arranged from bottom to top chronologically
Saturday, April 30, 2005
Nick had an outstanding day today. He started
the day a little sluggish but when
speech therapy came in he was ready to work. He
was able to follow all of her
commands and ate ice chips, showing a good
swallow response. He then got to have
some applesauce. He has been trying to talk all
day and although we can’t
understand what he is saying much of the time,
he did clearly say he wanted some
water. He no longer has a catheter. The last
tube is the feeding tube and we’re
hoping that will come off soon. Nick is more and
more alert which makes his family
Friday was moving day! The staff and many of his
nurses were on hand to wish him
well. We promised to have Nick come back and
thank them all personally one day.
There were many who took a special interest in
Nick that will be missed. Nick was
packed up and transported by ambulance to
Barrow Neurological Institute
Joseph’s Hospital in downtown Phoenix around
11:30AM. He spent the day getting
used to his new staff and environment. He is in
room 1S18-2 in the Neurology
Rehab unit. It’s on the ground floor of the
hospital right across from the cafeteria.
At 7:30 this morning he has his first therapy
session. He was pretty tired and didn’t
participate as much as we had hoped. We are so
grateful that Nick has the
opportunity to work with the therapist and
doctors at Barrows. They are considered
one of the top in the world for neurological
Friday, April 29, 2005
Everything is cleared for Nick to go to Barrow
Neurological Institute. He is expected
to go today, possibly as early as Noon.
It’s hard to believe this is the end of the
seventh week since the accident. Nick must
have been worn out from the previous days
activities, because he was much more
relaxed all day on Thursday. He also slept thru
the night which will allow him to be
fresh and ready to go today.
Nick has been accepted by
Barrow Neurological Institute.
Barrow is located within
St. Joseph’s Hospital, 350 W. Thomas Rd.,
Click for Map.
Nick’s insurance must approve the move and there
must be a bed available.
Insurance approval is expected, when a bed will
be available in not known. The
move could happen as early as today. If you plan
to visit tonight, call first so we can
let you know where he is.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Nick’s coma is definitely lighter and he is more
and more aware of his surroundings.
is becoming a lot more agitated, frustrated, and
aggressive which is not really his
nature. He was punching and kicking at the staff
yesterday. This is a normal
behavior for a coma patient but it is hard to
watch and deal with. Over stimulation is
also a concern. We are working on tactile and
sensory stimulation, using familiar
books, songs, smells, and pictures.
The family has been asked to limit visitors at
Nick’s bedside while he goes through
this stage. It is best that just one person
talks and interacts at a time and other
conversations in the room be limited. This will
allow Nick to focus and react to the
person talking to him more easily. While there
is no other patient in Nick’s room
visitors can be in the room, just not around the
bed. There is also a waiting room
down the hall where visitors can congregate.
Thank you for your understanding
during this recovery stage.
Additional wristbands have arrived. If you
requested any lately and haven’t received
them yet, they will be mailed today. If you want
wristbands please go to
page. Thank you all for your continued prayers.
They are working!
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
All of Nick’s therapists were excited about his
progress yesterday. He was vocalizing
sounds that indicated he understood yes and no.
He said "mom" three times and he
was following simple commands to squeeze a hand
or look toward a voice.
He was extremely active all day and then wore
himself out by late afternoon. He
seems to be more aware of the tubes left in his
stomach and has tried pulling on
them any chance he gets. He requires constant
monitoring at this point, just to keep
A huge thank you to all of employees at Total
Bliss Salon and Spa who donated their
time and talents to Nick’s benefit fundraiser on
Monday. It was very successful and
will go a long way in helping with his
Monday, April 25, 2005
Nick continues to fight to wake up. He is very
strong and a real hand full when
active. He pulled out the feeding tube
completely Sunday night that went into his
small intestine. It was the preferred method of
getting nutrients into him by his
main doctor but would require surgery to
replace. He has another tube into his
stomach that was being used to drain stomach
acids away since no food was going
through his stomach. This tube is a normal way
of feeding coma patients and will
be used now. He also pulled out his "pic tube".
This is a tube going up his arm into
the heart used for antibiotics and extra
hydration in place of an IV into a vein in his
arm. He is on no antibiotics now and water can
be given through the stomach tube
so it will not be replaced unless needed.
Since the removal of his treac Friday night Nick
has begun to make sounds. It
appears at times that he is responding to
requests to speak with basic sounds.
In his interview with Elaine, Nick’s mom this
morning, David Leibowitz of KTAR radio
brought up a very good point. The impression of
a person in a coma is that they just
lay in bed motionless. With all of Nick’s
activity, moving his arms and legs, opening
his eyes, making sounds he is still considered
in a coma. Until he is "connecting with
our world" as the neurologist puts it, he is in
a coma. "Purposeful and repetitive"
response to requested actions is what is
required to "wake up".
Salon Day went very well. Fox TV channel 10 and
ABC channel 15 covered the event
on their late evening news broadcast. Radio
station 101.5 FM The Zone broadcast
live from Total Bliss. Thanks to all for your
support of Nick.
David Leibowitz of KTAR radio 620 AM in Phoenix
will be doing an update with Nick’s
mom, Elaine at 11:15 AM. TV Channel 3 in Phoenix
will cover the Salon Day at Total
Bliss for broadcast during this evening.s
Salon Day at Total Bliss
All proceeds go to
Nick’s medical fund. Total Bliss Salon and Spa
is on the northwest corner of McQueen
and Guadalupe, in Gilbert. 876 N. McQueen Rd.
Click for map.
for an appointment or just come by. They will be
doing haircuts, waxing, polish
change and chair massages.
The Zone radio station 101.5 FM will be
broadcasting from 11:00am to 1:00pm from
Total Bliss Solon & Spa
In addition to solon & spa services, Total Bliss
will be conducting a raffle. Tickets are
$5 each or 3 for $12. Prizes include: Solon
services, Apple IPod, Photo shoot, round
of golf for 4 at San Marcos Golf Club, Gift
certificates for: Mancusos, Ztejas, Rosati’s,
PF Changs, Mulligan’s, Starbucks gift basket,
Lanza ( hair products) basket, Redkin
(hair products) basket, spa day at Total Bliss.
The drawing will be held at 8:00 PM.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
Nick continues to be in perpetual motion. He is
moving his right arm and leg
everywhere and the doctors feel that his bones
must be 95% healed as he is not
showing signs of pain when he moves them. His
left knee is in a brace so he cannot
move it much, although he is trying. He showed a
lot of interest in some colorful
balls given to him and he worked hard at picking
them up. He was taken on a field
trip (in his chair) outside to the patio to feel
the sun and warm breeze. He seemed
to be relaxed, although it didn’t appear to
stimulate any new responses. Today, the
family dog "Bailey" will be visiting Nick.
Nick’s parents are so impressed by the loyalty
Nick’s friends have shown. They said
that he would not go through this alone and they
have stood true to their word.
They are a special group of people.
The Zone radio station 101.5 FM will be
broadcasting from 11:00am to 1:00pm at
the Total Bliss Salon fundraiser on Monday,
April 25 for Nick. One more attempt to
get the witnesses to Nick’s accident to come
forward. For more information on
Salon Day at Total Bliss,
How You Can Help.
Friday, April 22, 2005
Nick’s treac was completely removed this
evening. He has been breathing on his
own partially through the treac and partially
through his nose & mouth for some time
now. His doctor said that he would do just fine
without it and just reached over
and took it out. They do not stitch the opening;
it will heal on its own within a few
The treac had to be very uncomfortable and
surely Nick must be glad that it is gone.
The ventilator was just to provide moist air
which normally is done by moisture in
the mouth and nose. With the ventilator and
treac gone it is one less thing for Nick
to pull out in his current very active state. It
was also very noisy. He should be able
to hear better without the constant roar it
His feeding tube will be reinserted tomorrow
morning. His doctor said it wasn’t really
any big deal to fix it.
Another active day for Nick Thursday. During the
night he pulled out his
feeding tube. He will be going to X-ray this
morning to see what needs to be done to
fix it. He continues to get daily doses of
Provigil to stimulate his brain to wake up.
This is adding to the agitation and increased
Salon Day at Total Bliss
How You Can Help
Nick’s friends from the band Stick Figures & the
Funky Monks are holding an open
rehearsal on Saturday April 23rd at Kerr
Cultural Center in Scottsdale. See
Thursday, April 21, 2005
Nick was very active yesterday and seemed to be
following our voices more often.
He took a hand on command three times. He is
working so hard that he tires easily.
We need to be patient which is so hard when we
see a positive result. His night
nurse said that he became very agitated during
the night and actually kicked his CPM
machine off onto the floor. He also mentioned
that he was throwing pillows off the
bed. These are all good signs that his brain may
be beginning to wake up! Keep up
the prayers, they are working!
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
It’s hard to believe it has been 40 days since
Nick’s accident. He is making progress,
slowly but surely. The Provigil medication used
to stimulate his brain to wake up,
will be used in a higher dose again today. It
was not as effective as it might have
been yesterday as it was given while pain meds
were still in his system. He does
seem to be responding somewhat to the sound of
familiar voices. He continues to be
very active physically.
Nick’s family wants to thank you all for your
continued prayers and support
throughout this difficult time.
SALON FUNDRAISER AT TOTAL BLISS -Update
Total Bliss Solon & Spa is doing a fundraiser
for Nick on Monday April 25th from
11:00 AM to 8:00 PM. They will be doing
haircuts, waxing, polish change and chair
In addition to spa services, Total Bliss will be
conducting a raffle. Tickets are $5 and
will be available at the salon. Items include an
Apple Ipod, a basket of Spa
products, gift certificates for Spa services,
restaurant gift certificates and golf
How You Can Help
under Solon Fundraiser for more detail on the
Total Bliss Salon and Spa
is on the northwest corner of McQueen
and Guadalupe, in Gilbert. 876 N. McQueen Rd.
Click for map.
for an appointment.
Please note that by clicking on the
blue highlighted areas
you will go directly to that
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Monday was a much better day with the hospital
staff. Nick was again very active.
Doctors will begin to reduce the air flow
through his trach today thereby increasing
his breathing through his mouth and nose. If all
goes well the trach will be removed
Also today, the neurologist will start to
administer a drug designed to stimulate the
brain and help Nick to wake up.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
It was a frustrating and long day for Nick and
his family from early this morning.
One mistake after another by the nursing and
care staff made it difficult to leave the
hospital tonight. Nick’s parents met with the
charge nurse on both shifts to try and
work out the problems. Nick was working hard
again today by moving his limbs.
Nick was pretty quiet most of the day Saturday.
He was given a muscle relaxant due
to cramping which probably contributed to the
relaxed state. He became active early
this morning, so today could be a busy one for
He now gets showers instead of sponge baths,
which surely makes him feel much
Saturday, April 16, 2005
Nick was again very active Friday. He continues
to open his eyes and move his arms
and right leg around. His left leg is the one
with the ligament damage. It is in a
hinge brace, and spends much of the day with it
in a machine that moves it
automatically, (CPM machine).
The bones around his right eye were crushed in
the accident and repaired in his first
surgery. The plastic surgeon did a great job,
you would never know anything
happened to the area. The right eye has not been
"in sync" with the left since. The
good news is that it has been continually
improving and is now very close to the
movements of the left eye. He spent a restful
night and became very active again
early this morning.
Friday, April 15, 2005
Nick’s story will be on News Channel 3 in
Phoenix again tonight at 10:00 PM, in the
hopes that someone will come forward with
information on the hit and run driver.
Nick was so active yesterday that his blood
pressure became an issue. He was
working so hard at trying to move, he began to
shake and sweat severely. He then
would drift off into a short period of rest and
then repeat the whole process over
again all day long. He also had a fever of 102
in the morning but was put back on
antibiotics and by the evening it was under
Just to clarify, although Nick has his eyes
open, and his arms and one leg are
moving, he is not considered "awake." The best
way to describe it is like he is in a
trance. He is being medicated with morphine due
to the significant pain from all of
his fractures and surgeries which contributes to
Thursday, April 14, 2005
Nick was more active than ever yesterday and
again starting around 4:00am this
morning. He really is acting like he is wants to
try and get out of bed, which would
be pretty impossible because of all the
surgeries on his legs! Due to the
tracheotomy, he can not speak, but speech
therapy has begun to use an attachment
that will create sound in case he tries. The
nurses have warned us that patients who
are trying to "wake up" from a coma can get
quite mean, often exhibiting a lot of
anger and using foul language.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Nick had another active day. He is having longer
periods of alert behavior. Another
CAT scan of his brain was done today. There
appeared to be no change from the
one done last week.
SALON FUNDRAISER AT TOTAL BLISS
The salon where Krista works is doing a
fundraiser for Nick on Monday April 25th
from 11am to 8pm. All proceeds go to Nick’s
Total Bliss Salon and
is on the northwest corner of McQueen and
Guadalupe, in Gilbert. 876 N.
Click for map.
Call 480-503-1977 for an appointment.
They will be doing haircuts, waxing, polish
change and chair massages. Raffle
tickets will be available at the salon for items
such as gift certificates for Spa
packages, products, and restaurants. We will
bring you more info about this
event as we get it. Hope to see you there.
Nick was more active yesterday and is moving his
arms more as though he is
agitated. They feel this is a good sign that he
may be trying to wake up. He had his
first EEG test which measures the electrical
activity in his brain. Dr. Young, his
neurologist, was pleased that it was not as bad
as he had feared, but it was not
normal either. He said he has more significant
problems on the right side and only
time will tell how that might affect his life.
Nick’s problem with a racing heart and sweats
continues. Dr. Young said this is fairly
common among people with a closed head injury.
Unfortunately, there is no plan for
prevention. Hopefully this will subside as the
If anyone of you reading this has any good
research or information on closed head
injuries or programs for rehab, please send it
Monday, April 11, 2005
Over all Nick had a very quiet weekend. He
continues to be having problems with a
racing heart and profuse sweating, particularly
at night. The staff feels this is
probably an indicator of pain and they treat it
with morphine. Nick will be seen by
the neurologist today. Hopefully he can come up
with a preventative plan of
Sunday, April 10, 2005
The car wash on Saturday was a huge success!
Heartfelt thanks to all of Nick’s
friends and MJHS students and staff who worked
hard on a steady stream of cars
from 9am-3pm. The community was very supportive
Nick had a quiet day yesterday. No changes to
Saturday, April 9, 2005
Nick had longer periods on Friday with his eyes
open. We gave him a lot of
stimulation during that time. Several musicians
from our church came to play the
guitar and the bongo drums. He appeared to sleep
through all of it, but shortly after
became more active than usual. He had a lot of
visitors Friday evening and
appeared to be trying hard to figure out what
was going on. It’s obviously still very
cloudy and the nurse says until his fractures
heal and he is without constant pain and
medication, it will still take awhile. While we
remain positive and hopeful, the reality
is that he had significant trauma to the brain.
Car wash this Saturday, April 9, from 9-3 at the
Arby's on Arizona Ave.
North of Warner Rd. in Chandler.
How You Can Help.
would like to express sincere gratitude to all
of Nick’s friends, and others who have
put together the car wash, volunteered to help,
and have been by his side
throughout. You are amazing!
Friday April 8, 2005
Nick’s condition seems to be improving ever so
slightly each day. He is definitely
following sounds now and will gaze toward the
sound of familiar voices even if he is
not visually recognizing. He is moving his arms
and legs more and turning his neck.
The therapists and his family and friends are
working on stimulating his senses and
talking to him constantly as though he can hear.
Nick’s temperature has been fairly
stable but his blood pressure spikes
occasionally causing him to break out in a
sweat. There is some uncertainty as to what
might be causing that to happen.
Thursday April 7, 2005
have arrived. If you requested wristbands you
receive them in a couple of days. If you have
not requested wristbands and want to,
How You Can Help
page for instructions.
Car wash this Saturday, April 9, from 9-3 at the
Arby's on Arizona Ave.
North of Warner Rd. in Chandler.
How You Can Help.
The Silent Witness reward has been increased to
$2,000. In addition to releasing the
information to the media again, 500 flyers will
be printed by Silent Witness and
distributed by Nick’s friends to businesses
around the accident scene.
Wednesday April 6, 2005
Nick was moved to the third floor today, room
303. Same elevators, turn right, it is
directly across from the nurses’ station on the
right hand side. This level is
the "Special Care Unit". There are two people to
a room, which is less than ideal but
there is no choice. His sister and Nick’s
friends were already decorating his side of
The nurses are just getting to understand Nick’s
case and the physical therapy team
is different. Therefore he did not get into the
chair or go through physical therapy
today. He continues to open his eyes and move
his arms, although still not what the
neurosurgeon calls purposeful. Although the
nurses and physical therapy people are
different, the specialty doctors attending to
him are the same.
Phoenix area CBS TV station, channel 5,
interviewed Scott Brady this afternoon for
broadcast in this evening.s news program. Scott
was visiting Nick at the hospital
before returning to Nellis Air Force Base near
Tuesday April 5, 2005
Nick had a very busy day. Doctors, nurses,
physical therapy, in & out of the chair.
He was pretty quiet except when in the chair or
being attended to by doctors or
David Leibowitz of KTAR radio 620 AM will be
doing an update on Nick’s condition
and our visit with Sgt. Scott Brady this morning
at approximately 11:15am.
Great news to report. Nick was definitely more
active the last couple of days and his
coma level is now fluctuating between 6-8 (15 is
where he needs to be.) He appears
to be drifting in and out of a semi-conscious
state. His white blood count is still a
little high but his fever has been normal for
three days now.
The family was so happy to finally be able to
thank Sgt. Scott Brady in person for his
courage and willingness to get involved. Without
his immediate action in starting
CPR, Nick would not be alive today. Scott
reported that the only reason he was
there was that he had missed a turn on his way
to the Phoenician and was turning
around. We believe he was Nick’s guardian angel
and he was exactly where he was
supposed to be.
Nick’s friends are holding a car wash this
Saturday, April 9, from 9-3 at the Arby’s on
Arizona Ave. North of Warner Rd. in Chandler.
Donations to Nick’s medical fund will
be accepted. Go to
How You Can Help
page for details.
Monday April 4, 2005
There was not much of a change in Nick’s
condition from Saturday. Nick had a lot of
visitors and opened his eyes a few times, but
with no apparent recognition. He does
appear to be in a lighter coma and we are ever
hopeful that he is starting to come
back. The family is looking forwad to this
evening when Sgt. Scott Brady, of Nellis
AFB will meet Nick for the first time since he
performed CPR and saved Nick’s life.
Please continue to pray, it is being felt.
Sunday April 3, 2005
Saturday started out with Nick being quite
active. When he was sitting up in the
chair he had his eyes open for about an hour and
although not conscious appeared to
be following sounds. It may be wishful thinking,
but it seemed like he really heard
what was being said. After that he seemed to
drift back into a restful sleep and was
very quiet the rest of the day. Even though he
is in a coma, the therapists work on
moving his joints every day so that he does not
lose his range of motion and become
stiff. His fever has been under control for 48
hours, so it appears the infection has
been cleared. We are continually talking to him,
playing his favorite music CDs and
using aroma therapy. The lead guitarist from
"Stick Figures" came in yesterday with
his guitar and played some of Nick’s favorite
songs. Nick has always enjoyed
picking at the guitar and had recently purchased
a new guitar and was learning to
Some of Nick’s friends are planning a car wash
for Saturday April 9. If you are in the
Gilbert/Mesa area, and you would like to help at
the car wash, please go to
for more information.
Saturday April 2, 2005
Nick was pretty quiet most of Friday. His fever
did not spike and his white blood
count trended downward. He was given more
medication regularly to relieve him of
the pain from his broken bones and surgeries
than previously. He is put into a chair
two to three times a day.
Toward the end of the evening, yesterday while
sitting up in the chair he opened his
eyes. He has opened his eyes many times before
but this time he kept them open for
about an hour. He was very active with his arms
and seemed to be trying
to respond. His heart rate went pretty high and
was tensing up. Just in case the
reaction was a result of pain, he was given some
morphine. He relaxed briefly then
continued with his eyes open and arms active.
His night nurse said that early this
morning he again had his eyes open and she felt
that he was responding to
her. Nick has some very exceptional doctors and
nurses caring for him.
Thursday March 31, 2005
Nick’s temperature spiked again this morning to
104. They removed his pick line
and will be testing it for bacteria. His white
blood count started going up again which
continues to indicate the possibility of
infection. He seemed to be having more pain
today so they gave him higher doses of pain
medication than he has needed
recently, just to help him get better rest to
promote the healing. On a positive note,
the trauma doctor believes Nick is progressing
and is very hopeful that Nick’s brain
trauma is also healing. As much as we want Nick
to wake up now, we feel his body
may be protecting him from all the pain by
keeping him in the coma. We remain
Reminder: The "Stick Figures" will be performing
outside the Herberger Theatre, in
downtown Phoenix, during their art festival
Friday, April 1st 8:00pm. The concert is
free and is appropriate for all ages. They are
accepting donations for Nick’s medical
Update: Due to overwhelming response, the first
order of the "Vigil of
Hope" wristbands are already gone! We have
re-ordered and expect them to ship
April 14th overnight express. Thanks for the
Wednesday March 30, 2005
Nick had a very quiet day today, but that was to
be expected following the surgery
that he underwent last evening. We have reached
Day 20, and although Nick’s coma
condition has still not yet improved, he
continues with his physical therapy sessions
(to keep his muscles from developing atrophy)
and is sustaining well on his feeding
tube. Nick’s physical appearance is greatly
improving as the deep bruising on his
head and around his eyes continues to heal and
the swelling around his skull
fractures diminishes. Nick is also making great
progress in clearing the pneumonia
from his lungs.
The "Vigil of Hope" bracelets are already being
reordered due to the overwhelming
response that has been received. Tomorrow marks
the 3rd week since Nick was
injured. Continue to hold every faith that he
will be healed and whole again.
Tuesday March 29, 2005
Nick’s surgery went well tonight. His fever has
been under control all day. One
ligament was repaired in his left knee. He had a
temporal aneurysm on the outside
of his skull that was also removed while he was
under anesthesia. A CAT scan was
done this morning on Nick’s sinuses to see if
maybe the source of the infection was
there. It showed no sign of infection and also
that the fractures to that area were
healing and no further surgery will be needed on
his face. The surgery on the other
ligaments will be postponed for now. Physically,
Nick is looking so much better, the
bruising is almost gone. Now we just need to get
him to wake up.
For those of you in the Phoenix area who like
live music, Nick’s friends from Kerr, a
band called "Stick Figures" will be playing at
the Arts Festival on the lawn of the
Herberger theatre on
Friday, April 1, at 8:00pm.
The band has offered to collect
donations for Nick’s medical fund. A full blown
benefit concert is being planned.
Stay tuned for details later.
For anyone who wishes to join the family in
keeping a daily vigil of hope for Nicholas
to wake out of his coma state, the
Nick Ruppert "Vigil of Hope"
now available. Please see the
How You Can Help
page for details.
Phoenix area radio station
KTAR 620 AM
(click on Leibowitz on left side of page)
called and will be doing a segment today on Hit
and Run Drivers in Arizona. David
Leibowitz is the host of the program which
begins at 9:00 AM Phoenix time. Elaine,
Nick’s mom, will be interviewed live around
9:35am for that segment. We continue
to hope that someone will come forward who knows
something about the driver of
the vehicle that hit Nick. Silent Witness is
offering a reward for information.
Nick’s fever spiked again to 104 overnight. They
just can’t seem to find the source
of infection. Fever’s this high are worrisome.
Pray hard today for Nick to have the
strength to get through all of this.
Monday March 28, 2005
Nick’s scheduled surgery was postponed due to an
overload in the operating rooms.
They explained that it is a trauma center and it
was a very busy day. He is
rescheduled for tomorrow at 6:30 PM. The same
thing could happen again but it is
His temperature spikes have been less severe and
his white blood count, although
still very high is trending down. His lungs are
very clear for a person in his condition
according to his doctors.
His responses were very low most of the day.
Later in the evening he reacted to
tickling his feet and some minor "agitation" by
All good news. Tomorrow is another day with an
opportunity for Nick to make
Sunday March 27, 2005
We were quite upset to learn that Nick’s
temperature had spiked to 104.8 overnight
on Saturday. The staff to patient ratio is such
that we will need to be there most of
the time to attend to Nick’s needs.
Nick is scheduled for the first of the surgeries
on his left knee tomorrow. All three of
the ligaments are torn. The orthopedic surgeon
said that if he does not repair one of
them soon, don’t remember which, he will not be
able to at all. The other two can
wait for awhile to be repaired. All the stitches
and staples from his previous
surgeries have been removed.
His white blood count remains high. A specialist
was called in to check his liver ect.
Everything checks out but the indicator of
infection remains. A spinal tap is being
considered to check for an infection in the
Nick has been very non responsive for the last
two days. Tonight just before we left,
while sitting up in the chair, he opened his
eyes and held his head up. His eyes still
don’t "track" but at least he opened them. He
was resting quietly when we left.
Saturday March 26, 2005
Nick was moved to a new room yesterday closer to
the nurses. station. He is in
642B. Visiting hours are 10am to 8pm. Nick had a
restful night according to his
night nurse. All day Friday he seemed to be
resting from the day before. The nurses
and his family are continually trying to
stimulate him and move his arms and legs so
that he will not have too much stiffness when he
wakes up and is able to start
rehab. No change in his coma level at this time.
A message from Nick’s Mom:
Many of you have asked how we are holding up.
We are continually blessed by
countless acts of kindness, generosity, and
prayers which are helping us get through
all of this. It seems when one of us is weak
the others pick us up. Krista, Nick's
sister has been amazing. We are so proud of the
tenderness and care she is giving
to her brother. John is our pillar; he is so
positive and optimistic. I'm (Elaine)
holding up with the help of so many, but have
developed laryngitis for the past three
days and can barely speak, which is why I have
not returned phone calls. My heart
is aching for the pain that Nick is enduring.
Every mom and dad knows this feeling
and I know from your notes and cards that you
This is the weekend of the greatest miracle of
all; we pray that our prayers will be
answered as well, and that NIck will wake up and
be whole again. Have a blessed
Thursday March 24, 2005
Tonight marks two weeks since Nick was injured.
The main trauma doctor at the
Scottsdale Trauma Hospital told us tonight that
Nick was one in a hundred to be alive
when arriving in his condition. Nick is fighting
hard for his life.
Nick had a very busy day. He spent several hours
in a chair. Went through two
different physical therapy sessions, and of
course much encouragement from his
family to perform some purposeful movements. He
opens his eyes frequently but
the eyes do not yet "track", focus on something
and follow it.
Nick’s white blood cell count remains high,
indicating infection, but they can’t find
the source. His fever spikes and is a constant
battle. He frequently coughs
violently. It is hard to watch but the doctors
love the fact that he has such a strong
cough to clear the fluid from his lungs.
The orthopedic surgeon wants to begin repair of
his left knee as soon as possible,
probably mid next week. Nick’s inability to
perform the movements for proper
physical therapy is a concern but if not done
soon damage will be more permanent.
His neurosurgeon tells us that the operations,
fever, and infections all add to the
delay in his ability to respond to outside
stimulus. Which is some respects is
encouraging because it gives hope that he will
be more responsive after each of
these problems are resolved.
Silent Witness ran Nick’s story on a Phoenix
Nick’s move from ICU to the next level of care
was hard on the family. He went from
a 1-1 nurse to a 1 nurse to 4 patients. It made
it very difficult not to worry that he
was getting the care he needs. After some
negotiating, they were assured he would
be given higher priority. Nick’s coma level
remains at a 5. The neurosurgeon said
this is the time we need to be patient and no
one knows when he will wake up. Keep
praying for a miracle.
Wednesday March 23, 2005
Nick spent a restful night. No change in his
Silent Witness has run his story on TV and
radio. It is featured on their
Tuesday March 22, 2005
Nick was moved out of "Intensive" Care Unit into
"Progressive" Care Unit. From the
2nd floor to the 6th floor. For the local
visitors, same elevator, go to 6th floor and
turn left and it’s right there. His nurse
tonight said they were going to move him to
a room directly across from their station if
possible, so I can’t give a room number
yet. He was in 649B when we left.
What does this mean? Nick’s physical condition
is stable enough that he no longer
needs constant monitoring of his vital signs. He
is breathing on his own.
Humidified, oxygenated air is pumped over his
breathing apparatus in his trachea to
provide moisture to his lungs. He is getting
full nutrition from a feeding tube.
Physically, Nick is improving as expected.
A CAT scan was done on his brain this morning.
The good news is that some of the
bruising has healed in his brain. The bad news
is that with this healing, Nick remains
in a very deep coma and has not shown any
improvement in his response.
Nick is fighting hard. He was taken off the
ventilator yesterday and it is only in place
in case his breathing becomes irregular. They
discovered that the source of some of
the bacteria was actually in one of his IV
tubes, which they replaced. His fever
continues to spike as high as 102.4, but the
white blood count is coming down. He is
occasionally partially opening his eyes, which
excites the family but the doctors say
it’s just response to pain or movement. His coma
level is still at 5. Nick has been
spending part of his day in a "Cadillac chair",
which allows his lungs to clear better.
From Nick’s family: "We want you all to know how
much your love and support has
meant through all of this. Words can’t describe
our gratitude. Hopefully one day,
Nick can thank you all himself. Please continue
to pray for Nick. We have faith that
it will work."
Monday March 21, 2005
Nick spent another quiet night after receiving
two units of blood. His white blood
count remains high and he continues to be
treated for pneumonia. The pancreatitis
seems to be improving which allows him to
receive liquid protein. His blood pressure
and temperature are being constantly monitored
and controlled by medication. His
family gets very excited when he seems to be
trying to open his eyes. The doctors
aren’t sure that it is "purposeful" and they
have yet to upgrade his coma level.
Sunday March 20, 2005
A new version of the flyer is now available.
to download and print.
Saturday March 19, 2005
Nick was not very responsive again today. His
white blood count was very high. The
doctors are not sure where the infection that is
causing it is coming from. They
thought it might be from some of the tubes he
has in him so they changed several of
them. A culture will be run on them to determine
if that was indeed the source of
the infection. He had to be sedated for the
procedure then given morphine for the
pain. His doctors say this type of thing is
normal and they just take care of whatever
pops up. We hope for more reaction from him
Yesterday Nick was very quiet so it was a long
day. Just as we were getting ready to
go home for the night the nurse did her regular
hourly test of his reactions. Nick’s
response was more positive than we had seen all
day. It was a good way to end the
This morning Nick’s doctors said that he seemed
a little "lighter". That means he is
reacting to their "stimulus". He is more
responsive to pain which is a positive as far
as the doctors are concerned, but it is sure
hard to witness. It drives his blood
pressure up, and they do give him morphine to
control the pain and something else
for the blood pressure.
They are not ready to upgrade his coma level but
we are hopeful that today he will
make strides in that direction.
Friday March 18, 2005
Nick’s fever persists. Doctors ran some tests
today and diagnosed pancreatitis -
inflammation of the pancreas caused by bruising.
It’s treatable, but they’ll have to
switch him back to the sugar IV from the feeding
tube until it clears up, hopefully not
more than a couple of days.
The orthopedic specialist is starting him on
physical therapy for his right arm and leg
- manipulating the joints to maintain the range
of motion and prevent them from
His neurological condition remains the same, no
change there. We’ll keep praying.
Links to some of the news coverage of last
night’s candlelight vigil on the
Update on the Medical Fund:
First of all, our deepest gratitude to those who
have contributed to help Nick. The
Ruppert family continues to be overwhelmed by
the love and support they’ve
received from family, friends and total
Second, we’ve had some people inquiring about a
way to donate electronically. To
has set up an account for us to facilitate
electronic contributions. PayPal
donations may now be made to
This should work for
credit card transactions also; please email us
if you run into any problems.
Thursday March 17, 2005
The candlelight vigil was well attended and
completely overwhelming to the Ruppert
family. The Phoenix Metro News Stations covered
the event for the evening news.
Nick’s friends spoke about how much Nick was a
part of their lives and they know
Nick will be with them again.
A special thanks was given to 23 year old SSgt
USAF Firefighter/EMT Scott Brady
visiting home from Nellis Air Force Base Nevada.
Scott saved Nick's life the night
of the accident.
SSgt Scott Brady arrived at the accident and
restored Nick’s heart beat and breathing until
the aid unit arrived. Scott was not able
to attend but his mother and sister were there.
Nick will personally thank Scott when
he is in town again.
Nick's friend Tim Gault had these very heartfelt and touching words to say:
It is with many heavy hearts that we are gathered here on this corner. Every
foot another memory, every step another thought. The candles that we hold
signify the hope that we all carry inside. Hope for the future, hope for
recovery, hope for normalcy. Events that hit this close to home put the
lives we live in perspective. The widely used cliche suddenly becomes a
harsh reality. The vulnerability of human existence is in an instant center
stage. It is hard to put into words the way we all feel inside. The little
things we think of now keep our hopes alive. And when Nick wakes up he'll
probably laugh at the charade because he knew all along that everything
would be okay. I know that he can hear us when we talk to him in his room.
He shows us time and time again when he responds with a small twitch or
movement that he wants to be with us again and end this painful dance that
we have all been forced to endure. The things we do now become even more
important than before. All at once we start to analyze every decision we
make, every step forward that we take. So tonight we will hold our beers
high in celebration of Nick, waiting for him to come back, back into our
Here's to U, Rupe!
Surgery on Nick’s arm and leg went well today.
The dislocated elbow proved to be
less of a problem than the doctor thought; it
popped right back in with little trouble.
Plates, screws and other assorted hardware were
used to fuse the breaks in his arm
and femur. The fractured pelvis remains; they’ll
leave it to mend on its own. They’ll
take a look at his left knee in a day or two.
Candlelight vigil tonight at 8pm in the parking
area of the Kerr Center. Directions
A little clarification of the Silent Witness
reward program on the
How To Help
Also, we’ve received word that some people have
had trouble contributing to the
Medical Fund when using the account name only.
The account number is on the
page; that should make it easier. Thanks for the
Nick’s neurological condition shows no change.
He is still in a deep coma. He was
given pain medication after the surgery which
seemed to diminish his physical
response last night. He is still scheduled for
surgery on his arm and leg today at
1:00 PM. The doctors will wait a few days to
treat his left knee, no broken bones
Nick’s vital signs remain strong. They had a bit
of problem with his blood pressure
last night. The doctors attributed it to pain
from yesterday’s surgery.
Wednesday March 16, 2005
Nick underwent surgery today in which doctors
preformed a tracheotomy and
inserted a feeding tube into his stomach. This
will allow them to remove the tubes
from his mouth, which could cause irritation
and/or infection over time. The
operation went well and took less time than they
The doctors also installed plates to fuse two of
the fractures in the front of his skull.
They say they’ll probably work on his broken leg
and arm tomorrow.
In other good news, the doctors say Nick is "overbreathing"
his respirator, which
means he’s requiring less artificial support to
inhale and exhale fully. Also, the nurse
says she caught him trying to open one of his
eyes last night! All of these are baby
steps in the right direction, and very
Thanks again to all of you who keep sending your
prayers and support and love
every day. Nick knows you’re pulling for him!
Tuesday March 15, 2005
Nick’s condition has remained the same. Although
he has a slight fever, the doctors
feel it is a natural symptom to his condition.
Overall Nick’s condition has stabilized
to the point where the doctors have given the
go-ahead to work on setting his
We have confirmed the candlelight vigil on
Thursday night, March 17 near the area
where the accident happened. It will be at 8pm
in the parking area of the Kerr
Cultural Center where Nick worked. More info on
How to Help
Monday March 14, 2005
Nick still remains in a deep coma (still at a
level 5), but seems to be a little more
active as far as movement. We’re not sure
whether or not it’s due to a reduction in
pain medicine, but needless to say we are
optimistic and see this as progress.
Today friends and family opened an account in
his name for anyone who would like
to contribute towards his medical expenses
and/or reward to anyone who has
information leading the Scottsdale Police to the
driver of the vehicle that hit him.
Please see the
How to Help
page for details.
Furthermore, we are planning a candlelight vigil
to be held this Thursday, the 17th of
March at 8PM at a location to be determined
shortly. All friends and family are
invited to join us as we gather to say a prayer
for Nick. Please spread the word,
bring a candle or flashlight, and we hope to see
you on Thursday.
Nick’s family is grateful for the thousands of
prayers, love, and support that they
have received during this difficult time.
Sunday March 13, 2005
Nick’s condition seems to be improving a little,
at least to us. He’s much more
responsive to stimulus than he was yesterday.
Doctors have reduced his pain
medication a little; this may account for some
of his increased activity, although it
does appear that his coma is slightly lighter
today than it has been. He’s moving
around a lot more, and if we squeeze his hand
and talk to him sometimes we’ll get a
faint squeeze back. So we’re encouraged by that.
And since his cranial pressure
seems to be stable, the doctor said they’ll
likely remove the monitoring device from
inside his head in the next day or two.
Hi, this is Elaine. Just wanted to let you all
know we have had a tremendous amount
of support from family, friends, neighbors,
co-workers, and complete strangers. At
this point it’s hour by hour and day by day. We
are praying for a miracle. We
appreciate all the love and prayers that you
have sent. We’ll be in touch. Love,
Saturday March 12, 2005
By this morning Nick’s vital signs, including
the pressure inside his brain, have
mostly stabilized. His fever subsided and the
mild pneumonia (common in patients
with his kind of trauma) has cleared up. These
are all good signs; it means that he’s
not getting any worse.
However, he remains in a very deep coma. The
neurologist explained to us that they
have a scale by which they measure the depth of
a coma; 15 is fully awake, 3 is the
worst. They estimate the depth of the coma by
his response to stimulus. The doctor
says Nick’s about a 5. The fact that the
pressure has gone down means that it’s no
longer the problem and that the damage was done
at the time of impact. So at this
point there is little to do but wait.
In the meantime, we’ve been doing everything we
can to try to track down the car
and driver who hit him. The local TV channels
all ran news stories tonight with Nick’s
picture, the known details of the accident and
interviews with Elaine, John and
Krista. In addition, we’ve distributed
throughout the area in hopes that
anyone who may have information will see them
and call. The police say that and
the TV coverage are our best chances of finding
the person responsible.