Rep. Gabrielle Giffords lost little time after her release from the hospital in returning to her hometown, visiting Tucson for Father’s Day for the first time since shortly after she was gravely wounded in a shooting rampage in January.
“We’ve been dreaming of this trip for some time,” Giffords’ astronaut husband, Mark Kelly, said in a news release Friday. “Gabby misses Tucson very much and her doctors have said that returning to her hometown could play an important role in her recovery.”
Kelly said the trip “is sure to be very emotional” and hopes the news media respects their privacy.
Giffords spokesman C.J. Karamargin said the Democratic congresswoman traveled by private plane from Houston to Tucson with Kelly and one of his daughters and she’ll spend Father’s Day weekend with her family.
According to a Twitter posting from her staff, Giffords’ plane landed in Tucson on Friday evening.
“Wheels down Tucson. Gabrielle & Mark looking forward to a beautiful weekend,” the tweet said.
Giffords was released from a Houston hospital Wednesday, five months after being shot in the head during a Tucson political event. She had been in the rehab facility since late January, a few weeks after the shooting that killed six and wounded 13.
Giffords will make no public appearances and will grant no interviews during her visit to Tucson, according to Karamargin.
He said Giffords often speaks of Tucson and has said repeatedly, “I want to go home.”
“Going home has been something that’s been right at the top of her list,” Karamargin said. “She is a child of the desert. This is where her heart is. There is no doubt that this will provide a boost in her recovery.”
She has left Houston twice since she arrived there in January, first in late April for Kelly’s space shuttle launch. When the launch was scrubbed for mechanical reasons, she returned to Florida again for the successful May 16 launch.
Giffords is now living in Kelly’s home in League City, a town 26 miles south of Houston. She will continue outpatient therapy at the same hospital where she underwent rehabilitation.
Giffords, who was shot in the left side of her head and has been struggling to relearn how to speak and walk, will be assisted by a 24-hour home health provider, according to a statement from the hospital.
Meanwhile, a federal judge has again denied a request by lawyers for shooting suspect Jared Loughner to be given notice before their client is given anti-psychotic drugs.
U.S. District Judge Larry Burns denied a notification request earlier this month and again in a ruling Friday in the case involving Loughner.
The suspect has been at a Missouri prison facility since May 28 after a judge declared him mentally incompetent to stand trial. Mental health experts will try to make him psychologically fit.
Prosecutors argued in a court filing Thursday that a person found to be mentally ill and incompetent to stand trial isn’t necessarily psychologically unfit to agree to medical treatment.
Loughner has pleaded not guilty to 49 charges stemming from the Jan. 8 attack.
Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press