Bob Woodruff, Doug Vogt Continue to Improve

Feb. 1, 2006 — -- Nearly three days after surviving a roadside bomb, "World News Tonight" co-anchor Bob Woodruff is "coming along beautifully," ABC News President David Westin said in a statement.

Woodruff is slowly being brought out of sedation and will be weaned off a breathing tube in the coming days. The condition of cameraman Doug Vogt, who was also injured in the attack, continues to improve.

"Bob is also coming along ... bearing in mind that he started out behind Doug," Westin said. "There are a host of tests and procedures he's going through, and they will continue for some time.

In a written statement, Westin said Diane Sawyer and Charlie Gibson will take on co-anchoring duties along with Elizabeth Vargas until "Bob can take his chair back."

"We're in the process of working out a schedule that can work for everyone, given their simultaneous commitment to 'Good Morning America,'" Westin said. "I know that all of you join me in our gratitude for Charlie's and Diane's willingness to help Bob, Elizabeth and our colleagues at 'World News Tonight.' We remain committed to taking 'World News Tonight' forward with the two anchors that are required for what we want to accomplish."

Cameraman Vogt continues to show signs of improvement. "Doug continues to make excellent progress," Westin said. "The doctors and his wife, Vivian, are very encouraged. He will continue to undergo various tests in the coming days."

Woodruff is going through several tests and procedures and has come through every procedure "with flying colors," Westin added. Relatives say Woodruff is making gradual progress in his recovery.

"He moved his legs and his arms again when they got him into the Bethesda hospital," Woodruff's brother David said of his recovery on "Good Morning America." "He attempted to open his eyes, and that can't be anything but good."

David Woodruff added that his brother was coming out of "a really bad place" but showing signs of improvement.

"He's doing great," he said.

David Woodruff added that he has "great hopes" for his brother and Vogt to fully recover from their injuries.

"Doug is in better shape than Bob, but the signs that Bob is showing are as good as they can expect with this type of injury," he told reporters at a news conference at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Tuesday evening.

Family Reunion

David Woodruff and Bob's wife, Lee, traveled to Germany to be at his bedside at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. But it wasn't until his arrival in Bethesda that his other brothers and his parents had a chance to see him.

"It's really hard," David Woodruff told "Good Morning America." "It's hard for all of us. My two youngest brothers saw him today for the first time. I got the advantage of going over there and seeing him come out of the really bad place and get better."

The two ABC News journalists returned in the United States late Tuesday afternoon to receive further treatment for the injuries they suffered during a roadside bomb attack in Iraq on Sunday.

David Woodruff said the transfer was "very successful."

"This is a long road, we all know that and are prepared for that," he said. "We think he's going to be under great care here."

A C-17 medical evacuation plane that carried Woodruff and Vogt, as well as wounded soldiers, landed at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, D.C.

The pair were transferred to the Maryland hospital on the advice of the military. Military doctors strongly recommended they go to Bethesda because the hospital has the most expertise in handling the kinds of injuries they have suffered.

It is not known how long Woodruff and Vogt will remain at Bethesda.

Doctors at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in western Germany said they were surprised at how much the two had improved before their departure Tuesday.

Vogt was said to be awake, alert and talking.

"I asked him if he was ready to go to Bethesda," said Dr. Peter Sorini. "And he said he was from Paris and he preferred to go home. So I sort of sense that he had a bit of a sense of humor."

Woodruff has increasingly shown signs of consciousness.

"He started to wake up more -- move his arms and legs and just this morning started opening his eyes," said Sorini.

Immediate Treatment Was Key

The two were taken to the Landstuhl late Sunday night after their convoy was hit by an improvised explosive device early Sunday near Taji, Iraq, about 12 miles north of Baghdad. Woodruff, Vogt and their four-man team were in the lead vehicle traveling in a convoy with Iraqi security forces. They were standing up in the back hatch of the vehicle taping a video log of the patrol at the time of the attack. Woodruff, Vogt and an Iraqi soldier were wounded in the attack.

Woodruff and Vogt suffered shrapnel wounds and underwent surgery at the U.S. military hospital in Balad. In addition to head injuries, Woodruff also suffered wounds to his upper body and broken bones.

Initial reports said the injured Iraqi soldier was "walking wounded," according to the American military. His current condition is not known.

Doctors say the immediate treatment Woodruff and Vogt received in Iraq, and the fact that both were wearing body armor, were crucial in their survival. They were also wearing helmets and ballistic glasses.

Woodruff and Vogt were taken by medevac to the Green Zone in Baghdad to receive treatment within 37 minutes of the blast. They were then flown by helicopter to Balad, which is about a 20-minute ride from Baghdad, said ABC News White House correspondent Martha Raddatz, who has covered the Pentagon and has extensive experience reporting from Iraq.

Long Slow Road Back Expected

Woodruff said he believes his brother will want to get back to journalism as soon as he can.

"We want to see them recover and return to what he loves to do," he said. "Maybe not back to Iraq, but certainly I know he'll want to get back to what he's always wanted to do."

Along with Elizabeth Vargas, Woodruff, 44, was named co-anchor of "World News Tonight" last month, replacing Peter Jennings, who died of lung cancer last year. Woodruff has been on assignment in Iraq and planned to broadcast from the war-torn country this week for the State of the Union address.

A father of four, he was one of the first Western reporters in Pakistan following the Sept. 11 attacks.

Woodruff's overseas reporting of the fallout from Sept. 11 was part of ABC News' coverage that was awarded the Alfred I. DuPont Award and the George Foster Peabody Award, the two highest honors in broadcast journalism.

Woodruff has also covered the Iraq conflict in Baghdad, Najaf, Nassariya and Basra. During the initial invasion, Woodruff reported from the front lines as an embedded journalist with the First Marine Division, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.

Vogt, a 46-year-old father of three girls, has been with ABC News for more than 15 years and has extensive experience in war-torn regions. He was sitting next to ABC News producer David Kaplan when the producer was shot and killed in Bosnia. Earlier this month, he was with Woodruff in Iran and was recently in another convoy in which someone was killed by an IED.