News and Updates

News and Updates

Mar 05 to Apr 05

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Sep 06 to Jun 08

News Archives


May 2005 to June 2005

Updates are arranged from bottom to top chronologically

Saturday, April 30, 2005


11:30 PM

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

very excited.


8:30 AM

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 at ST

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 research.


Friday, April 29, 2005


9:30 AM

Everything is cleared for Nick to go to Barrow Neurological Institute. He is expected

to go today, possibly as early as Noon.


7:00 AM

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., Phoenix. 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

He 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 How You

Can Help 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

him safe.

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 rehabilitation.


Monday, April 25, 2005


11:30 PM

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.


10:15 AM

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 newscast.



Salon Day at Total Bliss from 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM today 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. Call 480-503-1977

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

the Salon Day at Total Bliss, see How You Can Help.


Friday, April 22, 2005


9:15 PM

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 created.

His feeding tube will be reinserted tomorrow morning. His doctor said it wasn’t really

any big deal to fix it.


7:00 AM

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 activity.

Salon Day at Total Bliss - see 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 How You

Can Help for details.


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


7:00 AM

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.


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

packages. See How You Can Help under Solon Fundraiser for more detail on the

raffle prizes. Total Bliss Salon and Spa is on the northwest corner of McQueen

and Guadalupe, in Gilbert. 876 N. McQueen Rd. Click for map. Call 480-503-1977

for an appointment.

Please note that by clicking on the blue highlighted areas you will go directly to that



Tuesday, April 19, 2005


7:30 AM

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

completely soon.

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


11:30 PM

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.


8:45 AM

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 him.

He now gets showers instead of sponge baths, which surely makes him feel much



Saturday, April 16, 2005


7:30 AM

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 control.

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 the fog.


Thursday, April 14, 2005


6:45 AM

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


10:00 PM

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.


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 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. 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.


8:00 AM

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 brain heals.

If anyone of you reading this has any good research or information on closed head

injuries or programs for rehab, please send it through


Monday, April 11, 2005


7:00 AM

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


9:00 AM

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 and generous.

Nick had a quiet day yesterday. No changes to report.


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. Details at How You Can Help. Nick’s family

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


8:00 AM

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


7:00 AM

More Vigil Wristbands have arrived. If you requested wristbands you should

receive them in a couple of days. If you have not requested wristbands and want to,

see the 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. Details at 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


8:00 PM

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 room.

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.


1:45 PM

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 Las Vegas.


Tuesday April 5, 2005


10:00 PM

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


8:00 AM

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.


6:15 AM

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


5:30 AM

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


7:00 AM

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 How You

Can Help for more information.


Saturday April 2, 2005


7:45 AM

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


10:30 PM

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

ever hopeful.

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 tremendous support.


Wednesday March 30, 2005


11:45 PM

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


11:00 PM

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" wristbands are

now available. Please see the How You Can Help page for details.


8:45 AM

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


9:30 PM

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 family members.

All good news. Tomorrow is another day with an opportunity for Nick to make



Sunday March 27, 2005


8:00 PM

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 spinal fluid.

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


9:00 AM

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 understand. 

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

Easter.  Elaine


Thursday March 24, 2005


10:30 PM

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 radio station. Click here for the



7:00 AM

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


9:00 AM

Nick spent a restful night. No change in his condition.

Silent Witness has run his story on TV and radio. It is featured on their web site.


Tuesday March 22, 2005


10:30 PM

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.


7:30 AM

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


7:00 AM

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


11:00 AM

A new version of the flyer is now available. Click here to download and print.


Saturday March 19, 2005


11:00 PM

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 tomorrow.


8:30 AM

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


4:00 PM

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.


11:00 AM

Links to some of the news coverage of last night’s candlelight vigil on the Media

Coverage page.

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 strangers.

Second, we’ve had some people inquiring about a way to donate electronically. To

help, PayPal 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


12:00 Midnight

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 within seconds

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.


4:30 PM

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



12:00 PM

A little clarification of the Silent Witness reward program on the How To Help page.

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 How

to Help page; that should make it easier. Thanks for the feedback!


7:30 AM

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 originally estimated.

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 encouraging.

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 the How to Help page.


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


9:00 PM

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.


8:00 AM

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 flyers 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.