Gary Sinise Foundation Helps Police Officer Regain Independence After Crash

Between the work they've done to provide smart homes for wounded veterans and treat Gold Star families to magical Disney World, it's hardly a surprise that the Gary Sinise Foundation has become one of the most beloved organizations looking out for veterans and military families to date.

But what tends to be less well-known is that Sinise and his foundation are just as passionate about giving back to America's first responders.

And while the story we're about to discuss actually demonstrates a couple of ways they do that, they've especially made a difference in the life of one rookie police officer.

On January 4, 2021, officer Zackary Hunt of the Fairmont Police Department in North Carolina responded when two men attempted to rob a convenience store.

As he told the Gary Sinise Foundation, what makes police chases so dangerous isn't necessarily the high speeds, but rather all the details an officer has to watch.

While reaching speeds of 80 to 90 miles per hour, an officer must be aware of the suspect's direction, their body language, and the make, model, and license plate of their vehicle.

All these considerations make it easy to get a kind of tunnel vision during a chase and that was exactly what happened to Hunt.

After the suspects made a series of tight turns and blew past several stop signs down a dimly-lit road, they slowed down to make another hard turn.

But while this was feasible for their compact car, Hunt soon discovered that it wasn't something his Chevy Tahoe could handle when he hit the brakes and tried to pull a similar turn.

In his words, "As soon as I hit the woods, everything went black, and it felt like three seconds, maybe, when all it was complete silence — just a black picture."

Coincidentally, Fairmont firefighters would later free Hunt from his vehicle using a Jaws of Life unit they had purchased thanks to grant money provided by the Gary Sinise Foundation.

But Hunt's troubles weren't over yet as the crash resulted in a broken pelvis and hip, as well as a staph infection that kept him in the hospital for a week longer than expected.

But what Hunt didn't know was that while he was resting up, a crew from the Gary Sinise Foundation was hard at work installing a temporary wheelchair ramp in front of his house.

This process normally takes weeks, but the crews were able to get Hunt's ramp installed in a matter of days.

This took quite a load off Hunt's mind as he would need his chair for several months after the crash.

Hunt has since regained his ability to walk and returned to work this week.

As is standard procedure in cases like his, he is working a desk and performing limited duties until his depatment declares him fit for patrol again.

In his words, "Without all that love and support from Gary [Sinise] or the police department or my family and friends. I don’t think that I would recover as fast as I did — emotionally and physically as well, even mentally."

h/t: Gary Sinise Foundation