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Wounded Arnold police officer’s recovery, ‘Nothing short of a miracle’

ENGLEWOOD, CO - Barbara O’Connor says it is nothing short of a miracle. Her husband has begun to speak.

“He shared his first sentence with me, which was ‘I just got to get my badge,’” she said.  “I laughed. I cried. I gave him his badge.”

The news marks a huge breakthrough for Ryan O’Connor, the Arnold Police Officer who was critically injured in the line of duty last December.

Fox 2’s Jasmine Huda spoke exclusively with Officer O’Connor’s wife about how he is doing, and the family’s message for the St. Louis community.

Barbara has been staying on campus with the couple’s four children as her husband undergoes therapy and rehabilitation at Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado.

The world-renowned facility specializes in treating patients with traumatic brain injuries.

The hospital also treats spinal cord injuries. Recent patients include Hazelwood Officer Craig Tudor and Ballwin Officer Mike Flamion.

O’Connor, 44, was shot in the back of the head December 5 by a burglary suspect he was transporting to the Arnold Police Department.

It was unclear whether he would survive. But hope, prayers, and the best medical care have made it possible for him to not only be here but to make considerable progress.

“He’s able to move parts of his body. He’s able to communicate now, speaking in some ways. It’s a long road - there’s still a lot to do, and that’s the advantage of being here at Craig. With great therapists,” she said.

Ryan O’Connor meets with various therapists, including his lead physical therapist, Wesley Thornton, five days a week.

“Really, the past couple of weeks have been an incredible turnaround. Ryan will do stuff without even any real cuing.  Or any commands necessary. He just feels it, and he does it,” Thornton said.

While the road to recovery is a long one, Barbara said she is grateful she is not traveling alone.

Since December 5, family, friends, and strangers from across the St. Louis area and even the country, have come to be by her side.

“Getting the cards, and seeing the faces, and to find out about events that were supporting our family, was incredible. We never expected to receive the amount of support that we received. It’s what keeps us going. That is something I can never say thank you enough for,” she said.