Injured Congressional Hopeful Leaves Hospital

A congressional hopeful who crashed his car and got lost in the woods for more than a day was released Friday from the hospital where he was treated for a concussion, frostbite and other injuries.

"This has been a great ordeal I've gone through. I'm thankful to be alive and thankful to be going home to them," Gary Dodds said at a brief news conference with his wife and two daughters behind him.

Dodds, 41, of Rye, spoke from a wheelchair. He cannot walk or drive and faces extensive rehabilitation.

He described hitting a guardrail on the snowy Spaulding Turnpike while driving alone on April 5, being hit by air bags, then being in cold, deep water as he somehow crossed the Bellamy River.

He said he didn't remember much about the next 27 hours, except covering himself with leaves to stay warm, hearing helicopters and then seeing a light and hearing a rescuer whistle.

He was going in and out of consciousness when rescuers found him about 100 yards behind some houses.

Portsmouth Regional Hospital spokeswoman Nancy Notis said Dodds had a concussion with "some situational amnesia" but said there was no permanent brain damage. She said his feet had significant nerve damage, but his problems with balance and walking should be temporary.

Dodds is one of four Democratic hopefuls competing in the September primary for a chance to unseat two-term Republican Rep. Jeb Bradley (news, bio, voting record). Dodds said he would scale back campaigning as he recovers, but hopes to resume a full schedule.

Dodds, the chief financial officer of Accent Magazine, a home and garden publication, was little known to voters before the crash and ensuing search.