"Clearly God has a purpose for me," says Bauer leaving hospital - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

"Clearly God has a purpose for me," says Bauer leaving hospital

Lt. Governor Andre Bauer Lt. Governor Andre Bauer
Bauer's plane with John Leonhardt Sr., Bauer's plane with John Leonhardt Sr.,
Wreckage of Bauer's plane Wreckage of Bauer's plane
Lt. Gov. Bauer, Nurse Wanda Foster (Photo – Randy Hadaway, Greenville Hospital System) Lt. Gov. Bauer, Nurse Wanda Foster (Photo – Randy Hadaway, Greenville Hospital System)

(Greenville-AP) May 27, 2006 - Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer was released from a Greenville hospital Saturday afternoon.

Bauer was being treated for injuries he got when his small plane crashed on takeoff from a rural airport near Blacksburg. Bauer left the hospital in a wheelchair. His left leg was bandaged and elevated. His forehead still had a bandaged and scratches were visible on both knees.

The lieutenant governor has a shattered left heel that will need surgery in about two weeks.

He told reporters at the hospital that "clearly God has a purpose for me." Bauer says he now must "figure out what that purpose is."

The lieutenant governor says he will be staying in the Upstate with friends. He plans to get follow-up checkups at Greenville Hospital System.

It hasn't been decided where he will have the surgery on his heel.

Orthopedic surgeon Doctor Kyle Jeray at the Greenville Hospital System says Bauer is doing very well.

A spokesperson for Greenville Hospital System said Thursday an MRI determined that soft tissue injuries in Bauer's heel need to heal before surgery.

Jeray says Bauer won't be able to put weight on his left leg for about three months.

Bauer will be able to use crutches, but will probably need a wheelchair for long distances. Bauer did briefly use crutches Thursday.

Greenville Memorial Hospital spokeswoman Robin Zimmerman says Bauer remained in good condition despite a "fever spike" Wednesday night. Visitors also say Bauer has been in good spirits.

Bauer's mom visited him Wednesday afternoon. She said he is a very strong person who is doing better than she expected in coping with the plane crash and his injuries. She told reporters Bauer was eating chocolate chip cookies, which she said was a good sign. 

Although Bauer had seen some close friends and family while he was in the hospital, medical staff had asked for visitation to be limited to allow Bauer time to recover.

Bauer suffered multiple injures to his shoulder, heel, knee and face in a Tuesday crash. The plane he was flying went down while trying to take off from a dirt airstrip near Blacksburg.

Bauer released this statement Wednesday, thanking rescuers and saying he has been humbled by the outpouring of concern by South Carolinians.

His passenger, 77-year-old John Leonhardt Senior, was released from Spartanburg Regional Medical Center Friday.

John's wife, Azalea Leonhardt, says her husband is "pretty banged up but he's tough. He has a broken leg but does not have any internal injuries."

Azalea says her husband is resting at his daughter-in-law's house and was too tired to talk to a reporter Friday evening.

The National Transportation Safety Board says a preliminary report on the crash will not be released until Friday at the earliest. A spokeswoman for the National Transportation Safety Board says Bauer's plane apparently hit the power lines for yet-undetermined reasons.

Senator Harvey Peeler says Bauer flew to the area to visit a friend who had a death in the family. Azalea says the two men were on their way back home from the funeral.

The plane Bauer was flying crashed and burst into flames shortly after take-off from the dirt airstrip in Cherokee County.

Jeremy Elliot lives near the airstrip. He says he saw Bauer on the ground crawling from the plane and helped pull Leonhardt from the wreckage about a minute before it exploded. Elliot says both men appeared to have cuts on their faces and broken bones.

According to Captain Black with the Cherokee County 911, the crash happened on White Farm Road, which is near Interstate 85, at 6:28pm. The weather was sunny with light winds in the Upstate at the time of the crash.

The Federal Aviation Administration says the plane was a Mooney M-20-E fixed-wing single-engine aircraft registered to Bunk Aviation in Columbia. It was a four-seater plane.

Bauer bought the plane from Leonhardt three years ago. It had just had an annual check and a new engine installed.

Bill Dukes says Bauer has been a pilot for about a year and a half. Dukes says Bauer flies about eight hours a month, which he says is frequent. Sen. Knotts says Lt. Gov. Bauer is "very careful in the plane" when he flies.

Azalea says her husband is also a pilot and he has 40 year's experience.

Governor Mark Sanford has issued the following statement on news of the plane crash: "As we continue to gather additional information on Andre's condition, I'd ask every South Carolinian to join me, Jenny and the boys in saying a prayer for Andre and his family," Gov. Sanford said. "Andre and Mr. Leonhardt are obviously both fortunate that their injuries were not more serious, and as we learn further details about exactly what happened we'd pass along our best wishes for their recovery."

Mike Campbell, who is running against Bauer as candidate for Lieutenant Governor, also issued a statement on the crash: "Ruffin and I were deeply concerned to hear about the plane crash. Our thoughts and prayers are with Andre, John Leonhardt Sr., and their families. We wish them both a healthy and speedy recovery and ask the citizens of South Carolina to join us in our prayers."

And it's not just the politicians who are wishing Bauer well. His MySpace page is filling up with comments>>

During a Wednesday morning press conference, Bauer's chief of staff Mike Easterday said, "At this time, there is no indication of the cause of the accident. The accident is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board, which is standard procedure. President pro-tem senator Glenn McConnell is presiding over the senate today and tomorrow. The Lt. Governor's Office and the Office on Aging are continuing as normal."

Lt. Gov. Bauer's campaign manager says Bauer may not be able to attend all of the rallies and functions, but he does plan to continue the race.

Updated 10:30pm by Chantelle Janelle with AP

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