Two weeks after a near-fatal blow to the head with a baseball bat, Richard Lee Underwood Jr. is getting out of the hospital and starting his long-term rehabilitation.
Doctors at Legacy Emanuel Hospital plan to transfer him Friday to the Rehabilitation Institute of Oregon at Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital in northwest Portland.
“He’s made some miraculous short-term recovery,” his father, Richard L. Underwood Sr., said Wednesday. “He’s much further along than anyone thought he’d be by now … but he’s got a long way to go.”
Underwood Jr., 28, suffered a severe head injury Dec. 16 at his family’s Christmas tree lot in Hillsboro when he was hit in the left side of the head by a teenage boy swinging a baseball bat.
Underwood and family members were involved the night before in a confrontation with teenage boys who threw wine cooler bottles from their cars into the parking lot near the tree lot.
One of the youths waved a baseball bat over his head, but Underwood Jr. stepped in to calm the situation, and the boys left.
After allegedly bragging at Hillsboro High School about getting even, the boys recruited friends to back them up or watch the next night when they returned to the Christmas tree lot.
As many as 20 youths jumped out of three cars, blocking the driveway. About a dozen of the youths attacked the Underwoods and a family friend, Brad Nicholson.
A passerby called 911, and most of the boys ran for their cars as police sirens neared. But two of the youths, including one with a bat, were stranded.
Underwood Sr. said the boys lost their car keys in the scuffle.
One of those youths swung the bat at William Underwood’s face and missed. William Underwood, who is Underwood Jr.’s uncle, turned to pull a youth off Doug, Underwood Jr.’s brother, and when the two turned back, Underwood Jr. was lying on the ground, bleeding from the head and unable to talk.
Underwood Sr. said police apprehended the boy with the bat at the scene. Police would not verify that, but acknowledged citing a 17-year-old boy on suspicion of assault and an 18-year-old on suspicion of disorderly conduct.
Cmdr. Lila Ashenbrenner of the Hillsboro Police Department said those boys weren’t formally charged because the case is so complicated and the crime so serious.
Underwood Sr., who retired in 1995 as a sheriff’s captain, said his son, a sheriff’s reserve deputy, doesn’t remember what happened and doesn’t know why he’s in the hospital.
After being unconscious for three days and unable to talk or walk for a week, Underwood Jr. now is forming short sentences, sitting up in a chair and walking with assistance.