WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. John Rutherford remains hospitalized a week after an allergic reaction caused an "acute digestive flare up" that forced him to be carried from the U.S. Capitol on a stretcher, his chief of staff said.
The 64-year-old freshman congressman and former Jacksonville sheriff, elected to the 4th Congressional District last fall, collapsed just after 6 p.m. last Wednesday while members of the House of Representatives were voting.
Rutherford's chief of staff, Kelly Simpson, quickly dispelled rumors of a heart attack and explained in a statement Wednesday that doctors are still working to eliminate all the inflammation caused by an allergic reaction.
The statement also said:
Congressman Rutherford is much improved and thanks everyone for their continued well wishes and prayers of support. ... Doctors are expected to release him some time over the next several days. John, Pat, and the entire Rutherford family ask their Northeast Florida extended family to continue to lift them all up in prayer as God continues to take John to a speedy recovery.”
According to multiple reports, Rutherford needed medical attention and paramedics were seen working on him in the Republican cloakroom.
Current Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said Rutherford gave everyone quite a scare.
"I can tell you, having worked with him for many, many years, my advice to him would be to take a few minutes and eat a meal every now and then and quit trying to work so hard every single day," Williams said. "We were obviously all praying for him last night. And it worked out well. He's in good health and good shape, looking forward to him getting back and getting back to work."
Many took to social media to express well wishes for Rutherford.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Congressman John Rutherford and his family. We are praying for a quick recovery," tweeted the Duval County GOP.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry also tweeted, "Prayers for my friend John Rutherford."
The 64-year-old Republican worked in law enforcement for 41 years and served as sheriff in Jacksonville, Florida, before defeating Democrat David Bruderly in November to win the District 4 seat of retiring Republican Rep. Ander Crenshaw.