Rep. Larsen's press secretary begins lengthy recovery after accident

A staffer in Rep. Rick Larsen’s (D-Wash.) office who was in critical condition after being hit by a city Metro bus last month is home and beginning a lengthy recovery.

Larsen visited Amanda Mahnke, his communications director, on Oct. 6, the first time he had seen her out of the hospital since she was struck while jogging on Sept. 3.

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Mahnke is doing fine, Larsen said, but has a tough road to recovery ahead.

“She’s on her way to recovery, and it’s going to be a long road, but her spirits are up,” Larsen told The Hill after his visit with Mahnke. He declined to go into the specifics of her therapy efforts.

Mahnke, 30, was hit by a city bus on Connecticut Avenue while attempting to crossing Florida Avenue. The traffic light had already turned yellow as the bus continued down Florida Avenue, according to eyewitness reports at the time. She remained in intensive care for several weeks following the accident, but has now returned to her parents’ house, where they are helping her recover.

“I fully expect her to come back to work,” Larsen said. “And she’s ever the classical Hill staffer, asking, ‘What can I do for work, how can I help with the office?’ I said to her, ‘How you can help is by doing what you’re doing and getting rest and recovering.’”

DC Police are investigating the incident.

Over the past five weeks, Mahnke has received an outpouring of support from fellow staffers on Capitol Hill, constituents from Larsen’s district, and her circle of friends, Larsen said. She’s arranged the dozens of cards and letters on a wall in her bedroom. She looks at them for motivation to eventually come back to work on the Hill, said Larsen.

Larsen’s chief of staff, Kim Johnston, used to handle press relations for him several years ago. She’s back at it again, in addition to her duties as chief of staff. In an effort to help out, she’s temporarily juggling Mahnke’s workload as best she can, Larsen said, adding that it’s been “a tad” overwhelming.

In the near future his office is planning to hire a temporary employee to lighten Johnston’s load in Mahnke’s absence. When Mahnke recovers and is ready to work again, she undoubtedly will have her old job back, he said.

“We’ll make it very clear that they understand that as soon as Amanda’s well enough to come back to work, they’ll have to find another job,” Larsen said of the temporary employee.