Stuck in a hospital bed and unable to speak because of tubes in her throat, congressional candidate Katie Arrington awoke from surgery.

With her husband standing next to her she turned her palm up flat like a piece of paper, and curled her other hand as if she were holding a pen.

She began to write out the letters C-A-M-P, as in campaign.

"There is no doubt she will make a strong recovery," said U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, who related the bedside story told by Arrington's husband, Rob.

"It's going to take some pain and hard work to get back," Scott added.

Arrington survived a car crash late Friday night on U.S. Highway 17 south of Charleston that occurred when a car going the wrong way smashed into the vehicle she was riding in as a passenger.

The driver of the other car was killed.

The driver with Arrington remains in critical condition at Medical University Hospital in Charleston.

Arrington, who two weeks ago won the Republican 1st Congressional District nomination over incumbent U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, has serious injuries.

They include a fracture in her back and several broken ribs.

She faces major surgery, including the removal of a portion of her small intestine.

The main artery in one of her legs has a partial collapse and will require a stent.

Her hospital stay is expected to last at least two weeks.

She will have another surgery Sunday morning. Her status is critical but stable.

A spokesman for her campaign said there is no question she will stay in the race.

"She's 100 percent running for Congress," said consultant Michael Mule. "She's determined, if not more than ever, to get back on the trail."

Arrington, 47, who at present is a state representative from Summerville, was on her way to Hilton Head Island where she was to receive an award from a state medical group Saturday morning.

Doctors credited her daily work-out regimen and physical fitness for her positive condition.

"There's not many people as tough as Katie Arrington," Mule said.

The crash occurred around 9 p.m. Friday near Adams Run in southern Charleston County.

The other woman in the car was identified as Jacqueline Goff, 59, from Mandeville, La. 

The driver in the northbound vehicle who died was identified as Helen White, 69, of Ravenel, said the Charleston County Coroner's Office. Her cause of death is pending an autopsy.

Arrington scored a national upset, defeating the incumbent Sanford in the June 12 Republican primary partially with the endorsement of President Donald Trump.

Notes of support came in from across the political spectrum, including Sanford.

"Our thoughts and prayers this morning go to Katie Arrington, her family and those involved in last night’s automobile accident," he said on Twitter.

Trump issued a message too.

"My thoughts and prayers are with Representative Katie Arrington of South Carolina, including all of those involved in last nights car accident, and their families," his tweet said.

Joe Cunningham, Arrington's Democratic opponent in November, said he is suspending all campaign activities until further notice.

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"Amanda (his wife) and I are lifting her and her family up in prayer right now. Please join us," he said on Twitter.

Gov. Henry McMaster added "We are shocked by the news of her accident and urge all South Carolinians to keep her in their prayers," he said via Twitter. "She is a strong, determined woman. We need her, and she will pull through."

Vice President Mike Pence called as well.

Scott, R-S.C., said he had to communicate with Arrington by means of a hospital clipboard because she was unable to speak when he visited her at Medical University Hospital on Saturday. She had life-support tubes in her mouth.

"She is high-functioning and very optimistic," he said.

She wrote down words of faith, family and purpose, he said. She even made jokes and they squeezed their hands together and smiled.

Arrington is expected to spend at least two weeks in the hospital and then wants a week of recuperation, Scott said.

"The campaign is already a motivating factor for her," he said.

He volunteered to do a fund-raiser for her November campaign.

They did not discuss the crash, he said.

The accident remains under investigation.

Highway 17, which runs the length of the coast, regularly makes lists of the most dangerous roads in the region and nation.

​The route is not lit for most of its path, meanders through dark woods and swamps, and deer strikes are common.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 843-937-5551. Follow him on Twitter at @skropf47.

Political Editor

Schuyler Kropf is The Post and Courier political editor. He has covered every major political race in South Carolina dating to 1988, including for U.S. Senate, governorship, the Statehouse and Republican and Democratic presidential primaries.

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