Published January 31, 2006
NEW YORK – ABC News led its broadcasts with its own journalists in the news: anchor Bob Woodruff and a cameraman had been seriously injured by a roadside bomb while reporting in Iraq.
Woodruff, the new co-anchor of "World News Tonight," and Doug Vogt both suffered head injuries, and Woodruff has broken bones.
They were flown Monday to a U.S. military hospital in Germany, and the network said their families were at the hospital Monday.
"They're both very seriously injured, but stable," Col. Bryan Gamble, commander of the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in western Germany, said Monday. He said the two men were heavily sedated, and under the care of the hospital's trauma team.
Their body armor likely saved them, "otherwise these would have been fatal wounds," Gamble said.
Woodruff and Vogt, an award-winning cameraman, were embedded with the 4th Infantry Division and traveling in a convoy Sunday with U.S. and Iraqi troops near Taji, about 12 miles north of Baghdad.
They were standing up in the hatch of the mechanized vehicle, exposed when the device exploded. An Iraqi solder also was hurt in the explosion.
"Doug was conscious, and I was able to reassure him we were getting them care. I spoke to Bob also and walked with them to the helicopter," said ABC senior producer Kate Felsen, who had been working with Woodruff for the past two weeks.
It was another dose of bad news for ABC News, still recovering from the cancer death of Peter Jennings in August. Woodruff, 44, assumed Jennings' old job anchoring "World News Tonight" with Elizabeth Vargas earlier this month.
"Bob and Doug were in Iraq doing what reporters do, trying to find out what's happening there up-close and firsthand. All of us are mindful of the risks and the dangers," Vargas said Sunday night in a closing note.
Woodruff, a father of four, has been at ABC News since 1996. He grew up in Michigan and became a corporate lawyer in New York, but changed fields soon after a stint teaching law in Beijing in 1989 and helping CBS News during the chaos of the Tiananmen Square protest.
Vogt, 46, is a three-time Emmy award-winning cameraman from Canada who has spent the last 20 years based in Europe covering global events for CBC, BBC and now exclusively for ABC News. He lives in Aix-en-Provence, France.
ABC said that at the time of the attack both men were in an Iraqi vehicle — considered less secure than U.S. military equipment — to get the perspective of the Iraqi military. They were aware the Iraqi forces are the frequent targets of insurgent attacks, the network said.
Dozens of journalists have been injured, killed or kidnapped in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
Jill Carroll, a freelance reporter for The Christian Science Monitor, was kidnapped by gunmen Jan. 7. She was among 250 foreigners who had been taken captive in the country since the U.S. invasion; at least 39 of those foreigners were killed.
The most visible among the U.S. TV reporters was David Bloom of NBC News, who died from an apparent blood clot while traveling south of Baghdad on April 6, 2003.
The Blooms and Woodruffs were known to be close friends, and when NBC News executives had to tell Bloom's widow that her husband had died, they made sure Woodruff's wife, Lee, was there to offer support.
Woodruff spent three days in Israel last week reporting on the Palestinian elections, and was to have been in Iraq through the State of the Union address on Tuesday, according to ABC.
ABC News' Jim Sciutto, who is covering the war in Iraq, said of Vogt: "He's the cameraman we all request when we go to the field because he's so good, a fantastic eye. He's won so many awards for ABC."
On CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday, anchor Bob Schieffer abandoned his commentary to wish Woodruff and Vogt well.
"It just hit us all like a lightning bolt because we've all been there," he later told The Associated Press.
NBC "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams said he had been in touch with Woodruff's family and is praying for the families of both men.
"There is no way to cover the story in Iraq without exposure to danger," he said.