Four weeks after being run over by a car and suffering a traumatic brain injury, South Dakota Highway Patrol Trooper Andrew Steen is awake and checking his email on his iPad.
The news comes the day before friends are holding a benefit for Steen and his family.
Steen has been in the hospital since October 17. That's the day Steen tried to pull over 25-year-old Rachel Coleman, who he suspected was driving drunk.
Authorities say Coleman led them on a chase through Sioux Falls and then ran Steen over in the parking lot of a strip mall. Coleman is now in custody for attempted murder while Steen continues his recovery.
Steen is awake and talking and according to a post from his family on Facebook, not only is he able to check email but one of his doctors has said he has not seen this type of progress in his 30 years of practicing medicine.
Still there is a long road ahead and now friends are hoping to raise money so Steen's family can continue to stay by his side.
"It's been very good to see how many people in the community are willing to help him," family friend Holly Stauffacher said.
Stauffacher is the owner of Artist Hair Studio and is close friends with the Steens. She's visited him in the hospital every day since the injury, and she's been planning Tuesday's fundraiser at the salon in Tea ever since.
"I knew that it wasn't going to be anything quick so I knew he was going to be in the hospital quite a while. Kristin wasn't going to be working and his family would be up here five-and-a-half hours away from home so they have expenses up here too, so I wanted to do something for them all," Stauffacher said.
On Tuesday, Stauffacher and her co-workers are holding a ‘cut-a-thon’ at the Artist Hair Studio in Tea. All the proceeds from the haircuts will go to Steen's family.
There will also be a silent auction, raffle and bake sale at the salon because even though Steen is making progress, he still has a long road ahead.
"He's going through a lot of different things. Yesterday, he thought he was in Denver; the day before in Colorado. The day before, he thought he was in Rapid City so his short-term memory might not be there, but he's making progress," Stauffacher said.
And Tuesday's fundraiser is one way to support Steen and his family as the trooper continues his recovery.
"I think just the fact that he was working to protect and serve all of us, and he literally put his life on the line for us, so I think people are more willing to help because of that," Stauffacher said.
Tuesday’s benefit goes from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. at night at the Artist Hair Studio at 315 N. Heritage Parkway in Tea.