Cranberry police officer reaches milestone in recovery from fall
During nearly two years of painful recovery, Cranberry police Cpl. Dan Hahn never doubted that he would heal enough to rejoin the force.
“My wife wouldn't let me lose hope,” said Hahn, 49, of Jackson, who returned to work Monday. “I had days where I felt worse than others and wondered how I would get through that day, but for the most part, I knew I was going to come back to work somehow.”
Hahn broke his back, sternum and ribs, and he got a concussion on Feb. 14, 2011, when he fell 24 feet off an overpass while chasing Thomas Booth, 22, of Volant in Lawrence County.
Cranberry Public Safety Director Jeff Schueler said the department is working with Hahn's doctors to determine an appropriate workload. Hahn is on light duty three days a week for four hours a day, focusing on administrative projects, Schueler said.
“We are extremely happy that he's come this far,” Schueler said Wednesday. “His passion and drive to return to work has been phenomenal. I think that was a lot of what kept him going — to fight his injuries and be able to return to work.”
Booth led police on a 20-mile, high-speed chase through Butler County after Sewickley Heights police approached him while investigating a report of a drunken driver. Booth got out of the car on Interstate 79 near the Evans City exit and jumped off the bridge, falling to his death.
Hahn, a 21-year-veteran, jumped after him.
He was in an induced coma for 16 days after the fall, and he used a wheelchair for about a year.
“It's been basically one surgery after another,” Hahn said. “I had to learn how to walk, how to stand, how to sit. I had to learn how to do all that stuff again.”
Hahn, who uses a cane when he leaves the house, said he is in pain some days.
“It varies day to day,” he said. “But I have more good days than bad days. I feel if I just get out there and move around and keep moving, I'll be all right.”
Schueler said Hahn, an accident reconstructionist, will work with the township's engineering department to help identify problem areas along roadways and help with record management and other projects.
“It's going to be a lot of administrative stuff,” Hahn said. “It feels great to be back. I was excited about getting back. It's been a long time, so I really, really wanted to get myself back and try to get some normalcy put back in my life.”
Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8519 or email@example.com.