For the first time in 2 1/2 weeks, Chris Stillwell is responding to friends and family.
Stillwell's eyes were open when Ted Sells, a close friend since childhood, walked into his room in the Intensive Care Unit at Denver Health Medical Center on Friday.
"He was following me around the room with his eyes," Sells said. "And when I asked him if he wanted me to switch the television from an old movie to the bowl game, he blinked twice."
Sells, who lives in Evergreen, visits Stillwell every day.
"We really don't know his medical condition, but this is the first sign of activity in 2 1/2 weeks. It's really exciting," Sells said.
Stillwell is the owner of the Nite's Rest Hotel in downtown Steamboat Springs. He is the father of three -- Bayli, 18, Tanner, 14, and Bryn, 12.
He went into a coma Dec. 15 after falling down a set of stairs at the Nite's Rest Motel.
His condition has been updated almost daily on the Web site www.chrisstillwell.com.
According to the Web site, Denver Health Medical staff removed Stillwell's brain shunt Tuesday. In the past two weeks, Stillwell's tiniest improvements have been celebrated on the Web site.
On Dec. 15, he was found unconscious but still breathing. He was flown to Denver at 1 a.m. Dec. 16 and put on a ventilator to keep the swelling down in his brain.
Exactly a week later, Stillwell opened his eyes slightly when he was bathed.
Stillwell is in the ICU, and there are about "five wires up to him," Sells said. "
"He's pretty groggy. He was awake with his eyes open for 20 minutes. It was pretty remarkable."
"As they all say, it's baby steps. This first baby step is a pretty big one in my mind. This is big news."
An in-depth feature on Chris Stillwell and his family will appear in Sunday's Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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