CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A State Police trooper who received a head injury Monday after he tried to stop a shoplifter in St. Albans is responsive and can recognize faces, authorities said.
On Tuesday, doctors at CAMC General Hospital's Intensive Care Unit were monitoring the trooper, whose name has not been released.
The trooper has a long recovery ahead and doctors are optimistic of his chances, State Police Sgt. Michael Baylous told reporters at the hospital Tuesday.
Police are searching for Jennifer Elaine Garretson, 35, who they say struck the trooper with her car near the Goody's Clothing Store at the St. Albans Mall.
The trooper had been shopping off-duty and was in plain clothes when he became involved in apprehending Garretson as a shoplifting suspect, Baylous said. The trooper followed Garretson to her car and got behind it attempting to prevent her from leaving, according to Baylous.
Garretson got inside her car and reversed over the trooper and fled, he said.
Garretson is described as a white woman, 5 feet 7 inches tall, 159 pounds with medium-length wavy brown hair. She was wearing a long-sleeved pink shirt and boots. Police listed recent addresses on Miracle Drive in St. Albans and at Lee Street East in Charleston.
Police have the woman's vehicle and Baylous believes it's only a matter of time before she's apprehended. Garretson is facing felony charges, but Baylous would not elaborate for fear of harming the investigation.
Garretson is on parole for two fraud convictions in 2011, according to the State Division of Corrections website. She was convicted of felony attempting to obtain controlled substances by fraud in Putnam County on March 10, 2011. She was also convicted of felony forgery or uttering in Kanawha County on March 18, 2011. She's expected to be released from parole in 2015, according to the DOC.
Baylous said doctors gave the trooper and his wife encouraging news on Tuesday.
He is heavily sedated and is breathing with the aid of a ventilator. He would eventually be weaned off that machine, Baylous said.
The trooper's injury hasn't required surgery, but doctors will continue to monitor him in the coming days watching for any complications.
The trooper's wife thanked everyone for thoughts and prayers.
"She said she could feel those prayers," Baylous said. "She's very excited about the possibility of a full recovery."
Baylous said he might release the trooper's name Wednesday. He wants his condition to stabilize more first.
The trooper has worked for the State Police around 20 years, and most recently, out of the State Police Headquarters in Institute.
The trooper previously worked in several different detachments as a criminal investigator, he said.