SAN DIEGO – A San Diego police officer paralyzed after being shot in the neck last year returned to a hero’s welcome today from a Rehabilitation center in Colorado.
Dan Walters, a former catcher with the Padres, rode in a wheelchair pushed by his father as about 100 officers greeted their colleague outside a Lindbergh Field terminal.
Walters had been at Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colo., a world-renowned facility for treating spinal cord injuries, Lt. Bill Cahill said.
The officer, struck by a bullet fired by a suspect in a domestic violence case last Nov. 12, is paralyzed from the neck down.
According to Lt. Jim Duncan, the suspect pulled a weapon on another officer just as Walters and his partner arrived on 43rd Street.
The first officer ducked out of the way, but Walters was hit, Duncan said. The officer was then struck by a vehicle that happened by.
Walters was forced to give up his baseball career in 1996 after suffering another spinal injury.
“It’s going to be a long road to recovery,” Chief William Lansdowne told Channel 8. “Dan knows that and we know that.”
Walters’ treatment will continue at the Sharp Rehabilitation Center in Kearny Mesa.
Walters’ experience in overcoming an earlier serious injury should aid in his recovery, Lansdowne said.
The gunman, Jaime Abraham Contreras, died in the shootout.