This summer, four Los Angeles Police Department officers experienced life-altering events. Officers Kristina Ripatti, Michael Toth, Enrique Chavez and James Tuck suffered life-threatening injuries in unrelated incidents.
Though their lives have changed dramatically, the officers opt to view the future with optimism, contesting clinical challenges. The LAPD extends its sincere appreciation for the public's outpouring of concern and support. Updates on the officers follow:
Officer Kristina Ripatti
Photos Courtesy of Daily News
Her days are spent struggling to cope with the loss of her legs. On June 3rd a man who had just robbed a gas station gunned down Southwest Area Officer Ripatti. One of the bullets damaged Ripatti's spine leaving her paralyzed from the chest down. Now this former athlete spends several days a week in rehab at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, and working out in a gym to increase her upper body strength.
Besides learning how to adjust her life, home and family to accommodate her paralysis, Officer Ripatti fights to stay strong so that she is physically and mentally able to challenge conventional medical wisdom that she will never walk again. Kristina and husband, LAPD Officer Tim Pearce, hope that one day medical science will help Kristina walk again.
Officer Michael Toth
On June 17, West Traffic Division Officer Michael Toth, 45, was involved in a traffic accident while driving home from work. Officer Toth, who was riding a Department motorcycle at the time, stopped to assist officers from the California Highway Patrol. The officers were conducting an investigation on the southbound Santa Ana Freeway in Anaheim.
A sports utility vehicle struck Officer Toth, as he was leaving the scene. The 10-year veteran suffered severe injuries to this face, ribcage and legs. Officer Toth underwent extensive surgery immediately following the accident. He is now receiving physical therapy and recently underwent additional surgery to repair damage to his right foot.
Officer Enrique Chavez
On July 11, Newton Area Officer Enrique Chavez, 35, was seriously wounded when his 3-year-old son picked up his service weapon and accidentally shot him in the back as the pair drove near their Anaheim home.
Officer Chavez underwent surgery on July 20, at which time a metal rod was placed in his spine. His injuries resulted in paralysis from the waist down.
In early August, Officer Chavez began rehabilitation. Department personnel close to the 10-year veteran report that he is doing well and his progress is ahead of schedule.
Officer James Tuck
As their police car rolled to a stop behind the vehicle, a passenger jumped out and charged the officers, spraying their police car with high-velocity rounds. Officer Tuck was hit three times, with one shot severly damaging his left wrist.
Nearly three weeks after the incident, Officer Tuck remains healthy and high-spirited. According to physicans, Officer Tuck will spend about one year in rehabilitation and regain 85-percent use of his hand. He is scheduled to begin physical therapy in early September. The photographs show the damage an AK-47 can create.