08/22/2007

Fla. deputy shot in head showing signs of improving health

By Andrew Tran and Ihosvani Rodriguez
The Sun-Sentinel
Related: Man who shot Fla. deputy practiced headshots often

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. All who are pulling for a Broward Sheriff's deputy who was shot in the head two weeks ago have been waiting for a sign, any sign, that he would survive.

Finally they got a thumbs-up, according to the cleric who led a prayer vigil last week at the hospital where Detective Maury Hernandez, 28, remains on a ventilator in critical condition.

"I do believe that prayer has a lot to do with this," said Ralph Rodriguez, pastor of New Testament Baptist Church in Miami Lakes and a family friend. At Memorial Regional Hospital, he said, "We've had nurses coming up to us and telling us that there is a miracle happening in that room. This is a young man who, we were told at first, shouldn't be alive."

In an e-mail message Tuesday morning to all Sheriff's Office employees, Sheriff Ken Jenne said he met Saturday with Hernandez's wife, who wished to pass along her gratitude for the "love, prayers and, most of all, support during this difficult time."

"Maury's health condition continues to improve," wrote Jody Hernandez. "He has started responding to commands and moving his right arm and right leg. The doctors are hopeful and optimistic about his recovery."

At a prayer vigil last Thursday evening attended by about 80 friends and relatives, people took turns reading Bible verses and offering healing prayers, Rodriguez said. He said Hernandez has smiled and moved his fingers in recent days and even gave a doctor the thumbs-up.

The pastor said Hernandez's parents, Mauricio and Rosa Hernandez, have remained praying at his bedside, along with his wife and other family members, since the shooting. Law enforcement officers from throughout South Florida have also visited and prayed.

"It's all about faith," Rodriguez said. "If you pray for a miracle and if you don't believe it's absolutely true, then you are not going to see one. His family members are all strong believers."

A hospital spokeswoman said family members declined to comment or release any information about the medical treatment Hernandez has received so far.

Hernandez, of Cooper City, was shot Aug. 6 as he pursued David Maldonado of Miramar for running several red lights on a motorcycle, authorities said.

When he was arrested, Maldonado, 23, told authorities he fled on foot after Hernandez stopped him because he feared being arrested on a probation violation and didn't want to miss his child's birth, officials said.

Maldonado, who has denied shooting Hernandez, is being held without bail on charges of attempted first-degree murder. Police have also charged him with carjacking, obstruction and violating his probation.

Copyright 2007 Sun-Sentinel Company

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