NMCP trauma surgeon: Stabbing victim “in great condition”

Posted at 2:34 PM, Jun 09, 2014
and last updated 2014-06-10 00:17:03-04

Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Powell, who was stabbed multiple times during a fight with another sailor on Friday, is "in great condition" despite the life threatening injuries he received, a trauma surgeon said Monday.

"I can say this morning with good confidence that he's in great condition. He looks wonderful. He's awake. He's able to communicate. He is off the breathing machine and is breathing on his own," said Captain Angela Earley, Trauma Surgeon and General Surgery Residency Program Director at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth.

PO2 Justin Powell

PO2 Justin Powell

"This is an absolute miracle that my husband is here with me today," said Powell's wife, Tina Powell. "I just thank God for pulling my husband through and making him heal and I know that we're going to get through this."

Capt. Earley said she was alerted shortly before 9:00 a.m. Friday of the stabbing and arrival of Powell with multiple stab wounds in the hospital's emergency department.

Powell was awake and alert when he arrived but was unable to speak due to laceration across the front of his neck.

Due to the severity of the injury, an airway was established via a tube that was inserted into his trachea. That tracheostomy is preventing Powell from speaking at this time, but he is now able to breathe on his own.

Doctors in the E.R. were able to further assess Powell's injuries and found that he suffered additional stab wounds including two to the left upper chest, three to the abdomen, and two to the left arm.

Powell was stabilized in the emergency department and moved into surgery where three teams of surgeons worked for over five hours to repair his injuries.

Captain Earley noted that in total, over 12 surgeons with specialties in trauma, thoracic, ear, nose and throat, hand surgery, and vascular surgery, along with six anesthesia providers, six circulating nurses and nine surgical techs worked together during the surgeries.

Powell's attacker has been identified as another sailor, Petty Officer 3rd Class Wilbur Harwell.

Court documents released Monday uncovered more about the events leading up to the stabbing and the search for Harwell afterwards.

The base was locked down for more of the day Friday, trapping hundreds of military members and civilians on the property while authorities searched for Harwell. He was found at an Oceanfront hotel later that afternoon and arrested.

Watch the entire press conference here:


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