ST. LOUIS – An Arnold police officer battled severe COVID-19 symptoms earlier this year after he was shot in the line of duty in 2017. Now, he is making significant strides in his recovery.
Ryan O’Connor spent 46 days in the hospital earlier this year while fighting COVID-19 and double pneumonia. He was released from the hospital in March, and he has shown some encouraging signs recently in his physical therapy program.
A video from earlier this week shows O’Connor crushing therapy, getting out of a wheelchair and taking steps with help from a walker and an assistant. O’Connor sports a St. Louis Blues shirt and gets up with inspiration by Laura Brangian’s song “Gloria,” the anthem for the Blues’ 2019 Stanley Cup playoff run. He also wishes mothers a Happy Mother’s Day while he took some steps.
One piece of inspiration behind O’Connor’s recovery was a sign with a quote from Christopher Reeve reading “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” O’Connor’s wife Barbara tells FOX2, “this is the quote I kept hanging in Ryan’s room.”
O’Connor was shot in the line of duty and was nearly killed in December 2017. He was shot in the back of the head by a burglary suspect. The suspect, 29-year-old Chad Klahs, shot himself in the head after shooting O’Connor, and later died. O’Connor was rushed to St. Anthony’s Medical Center with life-threatening injuries, but he made it through his early treatment.
Earlier this year, O’Connor had been unable to breathe on his own from his COVID-19 and double pneumonia diagnosis. His recovery from the illnesses was also complicated by a traumatic brain injury he suffered while on duty.
O’Connor continues with his recovery in the St. Louis area and is expected to return home soon. Branigan’s social media manager also shared a message of support Friday via Twitter in O’Connor’s recovery: “You got this Ryan!!!”