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Montana trooper showing signs of improving in Salt Lake City

(Wade Palmer, courtesy Montana Department of Justice)

SALT LAKE CITY — There are some very encouraging signs for a Montana state trooper recovering from gunshot wounds in Utah.  He has regained consciousness, but he still has a long and difficult road to recovery ahead of him.

When Montana State Trooper Wade Palmer was transferred to University Hospital after being shot three times in the head, his friends had serious doubts that he would last three weeks.

“We were scared he wasn’t going to be around for us,” Montana Trooper Mike Burman said. “Now, that’s our focus.  He’s moving forward and we can see that progress.  It’s hopeful.”

Palmer still can’t talk, but Burman said he’s showing signs that he understands what’s going on around him, and there are glimpses of his personality that are coming out.

“Coming down here and seeing him get to heal has been important.  It helps you cope with it,” Burman added.

Palmer has never been alone since he arrived three weeks ago.  Utah Highway Patrol Trooper David Moreno said there have been UHP officers around Palmer at all times to make sure his family’s needs are being met, and to encourage him to get better.

“[We say], ‘You’ve got hundreds of brothers here in Utah that are going to be by your side.  You just hang in there and fight,’” Romero said.

None of the UHP troopers knew Palmer and they’ve never worked with officers from Montana before, but Moreno said they know what it’s like to put yourself in harm’s way.

“We do the same job.  I’ve been in his situation many times when people have guns when you do traffic stops,” Moreno said. “The feeling is from every officer that comes in feels, ‘That could have been me.'”