It's been a long, hard road back for Cranberry police officer injured on job
When the fleeing suspect jumped an interstate guardrail, Cranberry police Cpl. Dan Hahn leapt after him.
He had no idea that a 24-foot drop-off awaited.
“I went straight down, like dead weight,” Hahn said. “I realized it right away. Then I was looking up at six or seven police officers pinning me to the ground, making sure I didn't move.”
More than two years later, Hahn continues to heal from extensive back injuries. He will talk about his recovery on Sunday at the Pittsburgh Officers Down 5K race in South Park, which benefits the Officer Down Memorial Page (odmp.org) and its mission to honor fallen law enforcement officers.
The race coincides with National Police Weekend in Washington. Organizer T.J. Burke, a patrolman with the Sharpsburg Police Department, said the race gives those who cannot travel to Washington a chance to recognize fallen officers.
Burke said the race raised about $5,000 last year, when 200 runners participated. He expects close to 500 runners this year.
Hahn, 50, of Jackson was injured Feb. 14, 2011, while chasing Thomas Booth, 22, of Volant, who died when he fell onto Tollgate Road below.
Booth led officers from five departments on a 20-mile car chase starting in Sewickley Heights. Police used road spikes to stop the chase on northbound Interstate 79 near the Evans City exit, state police said. Booth ran from his car and jumped off the overpass, with Hahn in pursuit.
Hahn has painful muscle spasms and other problems but returned to work in December. He spends 20 hours a week reconstructing and analyzing car crashes.
He recently graduated from using a cane to a walking stick.
“I'm starting to feel human again,” he said. “I'm really trying not to be a victim here.”
Hahn said he will speak to the runners about the importance of perseverance. He and his wife, Fritz, regularly address groups around the region.
“We give all the praise to God,” Hahn said. “Some people don't mind hearing that; some people do. But that's our story.”
He hopes to someday run in the Officers Down 5K.
“I've never been a runner but, absolutely, I'd like to participate,” he said. “To be able to run like that — that would be something.”
Chris Togneri is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5632 or firstname.lastname@example.org.