ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI – FOX2now.com) — St. Louis police officer Lucas Roethlisberger survived massive injuries sustained in a north city shooting October 13, 2010. He spoke for the first time Tuesday night, in an interview that was exclusive to Fox 2.
“I just kept fighting and fighting and fighting and battled through it, and here I am,’ said Roethlisberger, with a chuckle. That he can laugh and talk, that he is even alive, must be a miracle. That October night is fuzzy to him. But not to his wife.
“Because of what he does, I never watch the news. But for some reason that night I felt it. I needed to turn it on, so I did and saw breaking news, two north city officers injured,” said Courtney Roethlisberger. She texted him, and got no response. She called and got no answer. She knew something was wrong. “And then two officers came up to the door, banging on the door. They were like, ‘Mrs. Roethlisberger,’ and that was the first time I’d heard that, because we’re just gotten married a few weeks before, and they were like, ‘Your husband’s been injured. You need to come with us now.”
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“From that point on, just, everything changed,” she said through tears.
The officers rushed Courtney and the Roethlisberger’s three year old son to Barnes Jewish Hospital, where her husband of only seven weeks had suffered a minor stroke, and then a major one, within minutes of being shot. He had been hit during a traffic stop in the 4800 block of Enright. He and his partner tried to pull over a car with no headlights. When the driver stopped, the passenger got out and began firing.
Roethlisberger was hit twice. His brain was swelling. He was in a coma. He almost died.
“It’s hard to describe unless you’ve been in a coma, or had a stroke. You’re in the dark. You feel like [you’re] having a long dream, except you can still hear what’s going on,” said Lucas.
One of the shots went in his right tricep, and out his bicep. The other bullet shot went in his neck, through his carotid artery, and out his back. That bullet probably caused the stroke, which could have paralyzed this young officer forever.
“He couldn’t talk, he couldn’t walk, he couldn’t write, couldn’t feed himself,” recalls Courtney, “and he’s doing it all now by himself. He’s becoming the man he was before this all happened.”
After nine months of intense rehabilitation, Roethlisberger went back to work again this week, on limited duty. He desperately hopes to return to the streets.
“You love it, you love the people you work with, we have a great department,” he said. “Leadership, integrity…you live with it right in your chest, where your badge is.”
He was such a good officer, his colleagues named him “Officer of the Year”.
“I want people to understand that it’s not because he was shot in the line of duty, it’s because he is a hard worker, because he was a fantastic police officer,” said Courtney. “He did his job, and he was making a difference in the city of St. Louis, and I couldn’t be any happier, any more proud of him.”
Courtney credits God, an entire community’s prayers, and Lucas’s remarkable determination for his stunning recovery.
Lucas credits Courtney too.
“She is there by my heart, she’s been with me no matter what,” said Lucas. “For some reason I’m the type of person who keeps fighting through it. I don’t know how to explain it. This is no big problem. I’ll get through this. I will, you know.” He chucked once again.
Courtney added, “In the Roethlisberger household, can’t is not in our vocabulary. Can’t and won’t and don’t. That doesn’t exist. It’s always, ‘We can’. We will. And we do.”