Harrisburg officer continues to recover from crash

Harrisburg police officer Daniel Piper and his K-9, Thor, are still recovering from a crash nine months ago.

For the first time, he opened up about that life-changing night on April 20, when a driver slammed into his police SUV in the 2400 block of N. 6th Street.

“The biggest thing I remember is the bang. I remember the bang,” Piper said. “I can remember hearing glass falling all around me.

The police SUV overturned onto its roof. Emergency crews were called to remove Piper and Thor, who was in the back compartment.

“I got a call from one of his co-workers that he'd been in a bad accident and immediately it didn't sound good” said Judy Piper, Dan's wife.

Piper was rushed to Penn State Hershey Medical Center. When Judy and son Wyatt arrived at the hospital, the news from Piper's doctor wasn't good.

“He said I want to straight up with you. You could lose your father tonight,” Wyatt said.

“The preliminary report is that he had broken all of his ribs, his lungs collapsed, they put a chest tube in, he had fractured his pelvis, lacerated his spleen and he had a head wound, but they didn't think he had head trauma,” Judy Piper said.

Thor was rushed to Rossmoyne Animal Trauma Center. He had internal bruising but would survive, as his human partner, in a medically induced coma.

“He developed acute respiratory distress syndrome and then kidney failure. His body and lungs filled up with fluid and he was on a ventilator for four weeks and then a tracheotomy for another five weeks,” Judy Piper said.

Fellow officers took turns standing guard while Piper struggled day after day for months.

“I didn't remember anything next until June and waking up in the hospital and wondering if I was going to live or die,” Piper said. “I wasn't sure. I didn't know what was going on. I had been out so long.”

After gaining enough strength, he entered a rehabilitation center and eventually was sent home, his brothers in blue still by his side.

“Oh, they had a big welcoming party at the top of my lane,” Piper said. “They had the lights on, saluting and bringing me home, which was good to see.”

Dan has come a long way. He has only one kidney but is off dialysis. He's undergoing physical and occupational therapy and says there's numbness in a leg.

“I want to do better and I want get back to work and where I was,” he said. “I may not get all the way there, but I'm hoping to get 95 to 98 percent there.”

Dan is a fighter. He is also grateful.

“I'm glad to be here. I'm glad to be with my family. I'm thankful for all the people that help me,”  he said.

“It's just a relief to have him come home,” Judy said.

When Piper's police SUV was hit, it rolled onto a bystander, Selina Martin. We're told she had extensive internal injuries and is still recuperating.

The driver who crashed into Piper, Christopher Slaughter, faces charges including aggravated assault by vehicle and fleeing and eluding. He's scheduled in court Jan. 29.


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