Rep. Larry Womble’s condition upgraded to ‘good’

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Democratic North Carolina Rep. Larry Womble’s condition has been upgraded to ‘good’ after more than one month of hospitalization following a deadly crash involving an intoxicated driver.

The 70-year-old state house representative was critically injured in a head-on crash that killed David Allen Carmichael, 54, near his Winston-Salem home on Dec. 2.  He has been unable to speak since the crash.

Police said Carmichael, who was a neighbor of Womble’s, had a blood-alcohol level of .29 at the time of the crash.  However, police also said Womble crossed the center line before the crash occurred.

Womble’s condition has remained fairly stable throughout his stay at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, where he has undergone a series of surgeries over the past seven weeks.

Family spokesperson Tanya Wiley said Womble started therapy this week and has been responding well to speech.

Despite Womble’s stable condition, it doesn’t appear that he’ll be able to return to Raleigh when the legislature goes into session in February.

Wiley describe Womble’s recovery progress as “remarkable,” but she said he still has many overnight stays at the hospital.

Womble has been a fixture in the state house since 1995, serving as a member of the Commerce and Job Development, Enrivonmental, Finance and Utilities subcommittees.

Susan Campbell, Democratic Party Chair of Forsyth County, said Sen. Linda Garrou and Rep. Earline Parmon have each taken up Womble’s causes in his absence.  Womble’s staff are attending committee meetings during his hospital stay and Rep. Parmon has been taking calls from those Womble represented.

But when the Feb. legislative session begins, Womble won’t be able to vote in the Republican-dominated state house without being present.

“I think that being down a vote gives the Republican leadership an opening to push things through that they wouldn’t,” Campbell said.

Officials with Womble’s office say he’s not considering resignation.  If he were to resign, the Forsyth Democratic Party Executive Committee members, along with the precinct chairs and co-chairs in his district, would vote on a replacement.  The replacement would then need to be appointed by the governor.

“That’s certainly a possibility and in reality we do need to think about it, but mostly [we’ve] been about worrying about him and his recovery,” Campbell said.

With Womble’s condition being upgraded to good, Campbell said the party members Womble represents should not worry.

“They are still being represented,” Campbell said.