The former ABC anchor answered questions publicly Monday for the first time since the roadside bomb nearly killed him in Iraq on Jan. 29, 2006. ABC News is airing a primetime special about Woodruff’s recovery and the plight of other brain-injured Iraq veterans 10 p.m. Tuesday.
NEW YORK (AP) — Seconds after the roadside bomb that tore off part of his skull, Bob Woodruff said he had a brief out-of-body experience before losing consciousness for more than a month.
The former ABC anchor answered questions publicly Monday for the first time since the roadside bomb nearly killed him in Iraq on Jan. 29, 2006. ABC News is airing a prime-time special about Woodruff’s recovery and the plight of other brain-injured Iraq veterans 10 p.m. EST Tuesday.
Some small pockmarks on the left side of his face and neck were the only signs of his injury visible during a meeting with reporters on Monday. Woodruff would occasionally struggle for a word while answering questions and said that while he wasn’t 100 percent recovered, he was somewhere in the 90s.
He was standing with his head and upper body outside of a moving tank while on a reporting trip to Iraq when the bomb went off.
“When it actually exploded, I don’t remember that,” he said. “But I do remember immediately at that moment that I saw my body floating below me and a kind of whiteness.”
He briefly lost consciousness, fell back into the tank and woke up to see cameraman Doug Vogt across from him. Woodruff remembered spitting up blood.
“I looked up at Doug and I saw his eyes big and afraid and just asking him if we were still alive and that’s the last thing I remember,” Woodruff said.
He was in a coma for 36 days. He woke up and vaguely remembered there was a bombing.
Woodruff will be interviewed by ABC’s Diane Sawyer on “Good Morning America” Tuesday, and Oprah Winfrey later in the day. He and wife Lee wrote a book about their ordeal that will also be released Tuesday.
He described the long road back trying to put his memory together. The special shows Woodruff, during his recovery, looking at a picture of scissors and being unable to come up with the word.
“I couldn’t remember my two young daughters—not their names but their existence,” Woodruff said. He has twin 6-year-old daughters, along with a son who’s 15 and a daughter who’s 13.
Woodruff hedged when asked if he would want to go back and report in Iraq before ABC News President David Westin cut him off.
“I will not send him,” Westin said. “It just would not make sense. He’s more vulnerable than he was before. It would be the height of recklessness, from my point of view, to allow Bob Woodruff to go back to Iraq.”