An ambulance carried Rep. Gabrielle Giffords along a route lined with well-wishers holding flags Friday, taking the congresswoman to a plane that will fly her to a Houston rehab hospital and her next step in recovery.
It's the first time Giffords left the Tucson hospital since she was brought there with a gunshot wound to the head nearly two weeks ago, and people came to see her off with signs that read "Get well Gabby."
"We want to be here to help her and show her a good farewell, and hope that she has a great recovery," said Al Garcia, a Marine veteran who came on his Harley Davidson motorcycle. "It's through all of these prayers that she's leaving in just two weeks."
Giffords is traveling to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base with an escort from a group of motorcycle riders from a Veterans of Foreign Wars post who know her. From there, she'll be taken by medical flight to a Houston airport, then moved by helicopter to the ICU at Texas Medical Center, where she'll be evaluated before going to the center's rehabilitation hospital, TIRR Memorial Hermann. U.S. Capitol police arrived Thursday afternoon to set up extra security measures at the 119-bed facility.
Giffords husband, Houston-based astronaut Mark Kelly, tweeted Friday: "GG going to next phase of her recover today. Very grateful to the docs and nurses at UMC, Tucson PD, Sheriffs Dept....Back in Tucson ASAP!"