Sheriff’s Deputy On The Road To Recovery

EPHRATA, WA — Earl Romig is surprising everyone with how fast he’s regained some feeling and even movement in his right leg.

“When the pain on it’s on, it’s excruciating,” the Grant County Sheriff’s Deputy says. “It’s pain I’ve never felt before in my life.”

Romig was shot in the back and left for dead on January 10th, ultimately spending a month at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle recovering from internal injuries and severe nerve damage to his leg. On Tuesday, he was back home speaking about his ongoing recovery process.

“The prognosis is they don’t know how much movement I’m going to get back in my leg,” Romig admits. “However I’ve got movement and feeling back and now I need to get my quads and knee back and I’ll be able to walk.”

The devoted deputy’s goal is to get back to work in eight months, but he knows he has a long, painful road ahead of him and he’s not going to settle for a partial recovery.

“Without a walker, without a cane, without crutches,” he says. “I don’t want any of that stuff.”

Five weeks ago the Grant County Sheriff’s deputy worked out everyday and was in excellent physical shape. But on January, 10th he went coyote hunting by himself in a field outside Soap Lake and was shot in the back by another hunter, later identified by authorities as Robbie Joe Marcher.

“I see him and I’m screaming, ‘You shot me, you shot me, help me, God help me.’  I looked at my scope and saw him looking back at me and leaving.”

The hunter Romig was referring to has been identified as Robbie Joe Marcher who reportedly drove off in a pickup truck leaving Romig for dead.

The bullet hit him in the back, ricocheted off his spine and came out his stomach. Far from help, Romig was alone and bleeding profusely.

“I crawled 20 yards,” Romig recalls. “I tried using my rifle as a walking stick but that didn’t work. I kept falling down. I thought I’d been shot in the leg, so I’d throw my leg, crawl through the snow, throw my leg, and crawl.  My leg was completely numb. I put my bipod down and tried to drag myself through the snow and that didn’t work.”

After struggling for more than 30 minutes, Romig laid down in the snow.

“For some reason, I sat up and saw a truck,” he says. “I looked through my scope and it wasn’t the same truck, so I fired my last shot over the top of the guy’s truck and, for some reason, he stopped and got out and I was screaming loud, ‘Help me!'”

The motorist called 911 and Romig took the phone to record a final message on the 911 tape.

“I said my goodbyes to my fiancé,” he said. “I told her I loved her and I’m sorry this happened and please go on with her life.”

Minutes after the call more help started to arrive.

“I heard the sirens and I realized they knew where I am and now it’s time to fight for my life and stay awake and do what I needed to do,” Romig says. “Some of my other deputy co-workers laid with me in the snow and comforted me.”

An ambulance raced Romig to the hospital in Moses Lake where he was rushed into emergency surgery. He died three times on the operating table, but doctors were able to bring him back to life each time. The next day he was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle where doctors repaired his spine.  The bullet left him with severe nerve damage to his right leg and massive internal injuries.

“They ended up fusing four vertebrate,” Romig notes. “If you see the x-ray, there are rods and strews holding my back together. They’ll be there the rest of my life.”

Romig spent a month in the hospital where he and his fiancé Tami Canfield got married. Now along with being his new wife she’s also his head nurse.

“It wasn’t something I ever expected but it’s not a big deal to me,” Tami said about assisting in her new husband’s recovery process. “I will do it for the rest of my life if I have to.”

And she has a lot of faith in Earl’s ability to perservere, perhaps even more faith than he has in himself.

“He’s strong-headed,” she boasts. “I know he’ll walk fast – sooner than anybody thinks, even sooner than he thinks.”

Earl’s back in the comfort of his home now, but he and his wife made the best out of the situation even when it meant being cooped up in a hospital room.

“We’re married,” Tami notes. “We’re supposed to sleep in the same bed. We just didn’t think it would be a twin hospital bed.  I think it helps a lot, if he needs his back rubbed or anything to help the pain go away, I’m right there.”

Earl’s goal is to walk down the aisle for the couple’s ceremonial wedding in June. 

As for Robbie Joe Marcher, he’s walking free. The man who reportedly shot Earl Romig and drove away from the scene bonded out of jail after he pleaded not guilty to charges of assault, failure to summon assistance and illegal possession of a firearm.

Marcher told authorities he thought he was shooting at a coyote but Romig isn’t buying it.

“There’s no doubt he saw me as a human being that day,” Romig says.

While the whole ordeal has been an emotionally trying one, it’s also been a test of the human body. At the hospital shortly after the incident, Romig was given eight pints of blood. The average man has between 10 and 12 pints in his entire body.

But as Romig shows when he recalls the incident he proved to be a fighter from the beginning.

“I heard the sirens and I realized it was time to fight for my life and do what I needed to do,” he said.

Which is exactly what he’s done, and is continuing to do.

The community in Grant County is rallying behind Earl and Tami and are holding a benefit auction this Friday at the Ephrata Moose Lodge on his behalf. The benefit auction starts at 6 p.m. and the auction items include everything from vacation trips to wines and gift certificates.

You can track Earl’s progress on his long road to recovery on his
, where he and Tami and other members of their extended family have been blogging and posting pictures most every day.