Jet car crash Hammond out of intensive care

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The Independent Online

Doctors treating Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond said today his condition has improved and he has been moved out of intensive care.

Hammond is now said to be in a "stable" condition following his high speed crash in a jet-powered car.

A spokesman at Leeds General Infirmary said: "Doctors say Richard Hammond is making satisfactory progress.

"This morning he has been moved from intensive care on to a high dependency unit. His condition has been downgraded from 'serious but stable' to 'stable'."

Friends and family are keeping a bedside vigil for the 36-year-old, who suffered a "significant brain injury" in Wednesday afternoon's accident at Elvington Airfield, near York.

Hammond was airlifted to hospital after the 370mph jet-powered Vampire dragster veered off the runway, flipped over several times and crashed on to the grass.

Last night medics said Hammond's injury gave them "cause for concern" but added that they were "reasonably optimistic" he would make a good recovery.

Neurosurgery experts have said the fact that Hammond was able to regain some consciousness in the immediate aftermath of the crash could bolster hopes of a good recovery.

Regaining consciousness or being able to speak immediately after such an accident would point towards the brain beginning to fight back against initial injury, said neurosurgeon John Firth, of Nottingham.

But he added that the first 10 days could be crucial in determining the outcome, with doctors likely to be on the lookout for swelling, haemorrhaging or clots.

Hammond's brother, Nick, speaking to reporters on Thursday, was positive about the father of two.

He said: "He's making a bit of good progress. Both his brothers are here and his wife. The doctors are very pleased."

Fellow Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson and James May visited him in hospital on Thursday and said they were "looking forward to getting our 'Hamster' back".

Clarkson said: "Obviously at this time both he and his family are the most important concerns we have. It must be devastating for his wife, Mindy, and his two utterly adorable children."

Both TV stars are expected to visit their friend in hospital later today.

Police and safety experts have launched an investigation into the crash, which happened after Hammond had been driving at speeds close to 300mph as part of filming.

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