COLUMBIA, S.C. – A South Carolina Republican who ousted U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford left the hospital Friday, several weeks after she was severely injured in a car wreck, saying she remains focused on her campaign despite her injuries and recovery ahead.
During a news conference with reporters, state Rep. Katie Arrington said that she was ready to be discharged from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston but knows she has much rehab ahead of her, particularly in the four months before the November general election.
“I am in a great deal of pain, but I want to go home,” Arrington said, flanked by her doctor and husband. “The campaign hasn’t stopped for me.”
Arrington, 47, defeated Sanford in the June 12 primary for the 1st District, which runs from Charleston to Beaufort, handing the veteran politician his first-ever electoral loss. Sanford won three terms in the U.S. House in the 1990s, then two four-year terms as governor before an affair with a woman from Argentina marred the end of his second term. Sanford returned to Congress in 2013, winning a special election to his old U.S. House seat and holding on twice more.
During the campaign, Arrington highlighted Sanford’s frequent criticism of President Donald Trump. Just three hours before polls closed in South Carolina’s primary, Trump weighed in to endorse Arrington and denounce Sanford as “nothing but trouble.” During a subsequent visit to the state to campaign for Gov. Henry McMaster, Trump called on a crowd to pray for Arrington’s recovery.
Just three nights after Arrington’s primary victory, a friend was driving her to an event on Hilton Head Island when a wrong-way driver slammed into her vehicle on a stretch of U.S. Highway 17 south of Charleston where the speed limit is 60 mph, according to the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office. The driver of the other car, 69-year-old Helen White, died from her injuries. Her son has said she had trouble driving at night and was not wearing her seatbelt.
The woman driving Arrington, Jacqueline Goff, was also critically injured and is recovering. Since the crash, Arrington has undergone surgeries and rehab for injuries including a broken back, ribs and severe internal bleeding. She spent about a week in intensive care.
“I remember everything,” Arrington said Friday, becoming emotional at times. “I did not lose consciousness for a second.”
Arrington’s doctor told reporters Friday that she will need to limit her movement for about a month following her release. After the crash, 1st District Democratic nominee Joe Cunningham suspended campaigning for a few days and wished Arrington a full recovery but announced he was resuming activities after she was moved out of intensive care late last month. On Twitter Friday, Cunningham said he was “thrilled” Arrington was being discharged and looked “forward to a spirited debate on the issues” in the months to come.
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