Doctors are cautiously optimistic a Pembroke teacher will survive after he was caught in the middle of a wild carjacking and shootout in Honduras, just days before his 59th birthday.

Family members say Dennis Spencer, 58, was shot in the upper body, leaving bone fragments in his brain when he was carjacked after leaving a restaurant in what is known as a good part of town on Friday. He was told to drive and was led on a car chase before the occupants of the second vehicle opened fire.

Although he remained in a medically-induced coma at a local hospital in San Pedro Sula on Monday, family members and friends remained hopeful for a successful recovery after tests revealed he didn't suffer any bleeding to the brain.

"He's doing as can be expected, the doctors are cautiously optimistic that what has been -- how he's reacting -- is exactly how they expected him to react," said Ronald Vair, superintendent of the small Honduras English-language school where Spencer works.

He said even though Spencer remained sedated, he was reacting well to his wife Barb, who arrived in Honduras to be with her husband Sunday night.

"He reacts to her voice -- like he moves his feet, and moves his arms and hands, and what not. That's even in a sedated state that he's in, he doesn't react to anyone else -- he just reacts to her," Vair told CTV Ottawa in a telephone interview.

Vair said colleagues and students have spent the last few days holding a vigil at the hospital, in hopes the well-respected teacher will recover from his injuries.

"They're all rallying around in support. They had an assembly this morning to update the students on the situation, so everyone's being as supportive as they can, and thinking positively and just see what happens from there," he said.

Spencer has a rich career in education, spending years teaching at Bishop Smith Catholic High School in Pembroke, where he encouraged students to open themselves to the possibility of experiencing life through travel.

After retiring from the Pembroke high school, Spencer decided to take his teaching career south where he spent two years teaching in Mexico before moving to Honduras, where he's been principal of the English-language school Escuela Internacional La Lima for the past four years.

Besides teaching, Spencer is also involved with charity work. His most recent project includes raising funds to build an elementary school for underprivileged children.

He is expected to come out of his medically-induced coma on Tuesday.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Vanessa Lee