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Bob Woodruff leaves Bethesda facility

ABC anchor injured in Iraq will recuperate closer to home
/ Source: The Associated Press

ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff was transferred Thursday from a naval hospital in Maryland to a facility closer to his New York home as he continues to recuperate from injuries suffered in a roadside bomb attack in Iraq, ABC said.

The network wouldn’t say where Woodruff was being hospitalized. He lives in Westchester County north of New York City.

The transfer reflects “continued progress in all respects,” ABC News President David Westin said in an e-mail to ABC staffers. Woodruff suffered serious head injuries and broken bones Jan. 29 while reporting on the war.

“Bob is up and about, regularly talking and joking with (wife) Lee, the children, other family members and — yes — watching the news,” Westin said. “He continues to show just how strong and determined he is. That said, we should expect months of further recuperation.”

When he was attacked, Woodruff was in his first month as “World News Tonight” co-anchor with Elizabeth Vargas. During February, Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer alternated as substitute co-anchors.

Longer-range plan expectedNow, Vargas — who is pregnant — is going it alone. It’s expected the network within the next few weeks will announce a longer-range plan that will involve a substitute co-anchor. If Gibson or Sawyer are involved, it would also mean changes at “Good Morning America,” where they currently work.

When Woodruff and Vargas were appointed to the job to replace the late Peter Jennings in December, Westin said two people were necessary because ABC wanted its anchors to frequently travel to news, do an afternoon Webcast and separate feeds of the broadcast to the West Coast each night.

To keep Vargas from being overworked, ABC is no longer doing separate feeds for the West Coast every night, but the network said it remains committed to its plan.

Despite all the turmoil, “World News Tonight” has kept its second-place status in the ratings behind NBC’s “Nightly News,” according to Nielsen Media Research. CBS’ newscast with Bob Schieffer has been gaining, however.

Woodruff has been treated for the past several weeks at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

“For now, Bob will be devoting his full strength and energy to his family,” Westin said. “Later we will focus on getting him back to work on his schedule.”