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Tow truck driver's condition upgraded

The medical condition continues to improve slowly for a Detroit Lakes tow truck operator who was badly injured Sept. 9 while helping set up a Becker County disaster drill.

Michael Smith, 44, has been upgraded from critical to serious condition at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, hospital spokeswoman Christine Hill said Tuesday.

Smith owns and operates Lakes Country Towing in Detroit Lakes.

He was helping Becker County authorities set up a disaster drill at Soo Pass Ranch near Detroit Lakes when a converted school bus rolled down a small hill and into his wrecker.

Smith tried to jump into the wrecker to hit the brakes, but he only got halfway into the cab.

The wrecker sideswiped a tree and slammed the door shut on him.

He suffered a broken pelvis, and his left leg had to be amputated above the knee.

Family and friends continue to offer prayers and provide updates on his condition on the Web site.

"The good news continues to roll in. Mike is off the ventilator," Dawn Olson wrote Tuesday. "He is still groggy and sleeps a lot from the large amounts of pain medication, therefore, not communicating yet."

Smith's leg also is healing well, and he has more procedures to undergo, she wrote.

Smith's wife, Julie, "is a trooper, being at Mike's side day in and day out. Please pray for courage, strength, understanding and healing," Olson wrote.