Local sailor dies from Iraq injuries

July 17, 2008 7:48:08 AM PDT
A Navy petty officer died of complications from injuries he suffered more than two years ago during combat operations in Iraq.

Daniel R. Verbeke, 25, of Exton, died Monday at Paoli Hospital. His death was confirmed Thursday by the Logan Funeral Home, which handled the arrangements.

Verbeke was part of the landing crew aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, which was supporting combat troops inside Iraq.

He was left a quadriplegic in December 2005 after being hit by a piece of equipment while trying to repair a cable on the flight deck.

Verbeke was initially comatose, but after months of intensive therapy he was transferred to a Philadelphia-area rehabilitation hospital in June 2006, said his father, Robert.

Verbeke learned to vocalize basic words and make his feelings known, his father said. He recently said, "I love you," on the phone to his mother and sister. He enjoyed visits from his former shipmates, listening to hip-hop and classic rock, and watching Philadelphia Phillies games on TV.

Born in Arlington Heights, Ill., Verbeke grew up outside Philadelphia in Chester County. He joined the Navy in 2004 and had been aboard the Theodore Roosevelt for 15 months when he was injured.

Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.philly.com