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Injured House Staffers Are on the Mend

Two House staffers who suffered head injuries in recent accidents are on the road to recovery, though it’s still unclear when they will be able to come back to work.Dustin Frost and Amanda Mahnke suffered skull fractures a few weeks ago. Frost, state director to Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), was in a boat crash Aug, 27, and Mahnke, Rep. Rick Larsen’s (D-Wash.) communications director, was hit by a bus while jogging Sept. 3.Frost is in “great shape— after the crash that left him in a coma for more than a week, according to Rehberg spokesman Jed Link. Frost sustained the most serious injuries — a skull fracture and brain trauma — from the accident that he was in with Rehberg and three others along the rocky shores of Flathead Lake, Mont. Frost regained consciousness earlier this month and has been undergoing extensive physical therapy.Mahnke, meanwhile, is “slowly recovering from her injuries,— said Kim Johnston, Larsen’s chief of staff. Mahnke, 30, was heading north on Connecticut Avenue Northwest at about 8;30 a.m. when she was struck by a bus traveling east on Florida Avenue. She had no identification on her and was brought to George Washington University Hospital as a Jane Doe until family and co-workers were able to identify her hours later.“She and her family have appreciated the kind thoughts and heartfelt messages they have received wishing her well,— Johnston said in an e-mail. “The Larsen office looks forward to Amanda’s return and wishes her all of the best for a speedy and successful recovery.—Several news outlets have reported that Mahnke has been moved out of intensive care, but her co-workers have been silent about her condition and on when she might return to work. The Metropolitan Police Department has not yet completed its investigation of the accident, but Metro officials last week fired the bus driver who hit Mahnke — a decision that spokesman Steven Taubenkibel said was based on her “failure to uphold operations procedures.—As for Frost, Link couldn’t say whether it would be weeks or months until he is able to come back to work. Frost left the hospital Sept. 18 and began outpatient therapy Sept. 21.According to a Web site maintained by Frost’s family, his physical therapists say he “hasn’t lost any information or knowledge— but that “his brain has to relearn how to retrieve it again.— The family also writes that Frost has hearing loss and facial nerve damage, both of which “should be repairable in time.—In the meantime, Rehberg’s office recently mailed Frost a replacement BlackBerry since he lost his in the boat accident. “Like any Hill staffer, he was excited to get his BlackBerry back,— Link said.The boat crash is already having political implications for Rehberg: Dennis McDonald, one of Rehberg’s Democratic challengers, is accusing the lawmaker of being drunk when he rode in the boat, according to a Billings Gazette report on Tuesday.Rehberg, who wasn’t driving, has said he had less than two beers before getting into the boat. Local authorities say the driver of the boat, state Sen. Greg Barkus (R), has not been charged with a crime but is being investigated since he had also been drinking that night.

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