It took six to seven hours for surgeons to remove Keith Young's herniated disk and to dig out shattered windshield glass that tore into his face.
But it may take weeks to know if the Phoenix police officer struck Thursday by a hit-and-run driver will walk or see again.
A surgeon who operated on Young said Friday that the 39-year-old father of two is in critical condition but tests suggest he could recover from a bruise to his spinal cord and other injuries.
"It's probably the best spinal cord injury you could have in that there is no tearing of the cord," said Dr. Daniel Caruso of the Maricopa County Medical Center in Phoenix.
Still, the spine is bruised and will prove the largest obstacle Young must overcome in his recovery, Caruso said. Young also suffers from a head injury, but tests show "the brain itself looks very good," Caruso said.
Doctors are keeping Young in a medically induced coma to control pain, and they expect to keep him hospitalized for weeks. He probably won't need other major surgery but will need more plastic surgery on his face, Caruso said.
Young suffered the injuries about 1:15 a.m. Thursday when Linda Marie Tomchee struck his patrol car and knocked the officer to the ground, police said.
Tomchee continued to drive from the scene on Chandler Boulevard near Interstate 10. Young's partner followed her to a convenience store on Chandler Boulevard and 56th Street. She was arrested on suspicion of hit-and-run with injuries, endangerment and aggravated assault. Tomchee is being held at Madison Street Jail with a bond of $108,000.
Chandler police are investigating whether the 41-year-old Chandler resident was intoxicated. Young's wife, Jodi, said the family is optimistic he will recover.
"It's in God's hands now and we find peace in that," she said.