The Associated Press
SEATTLE — Officer Mike McClaughry doesn’t remember the shooting that left him blind. He doesn’t remember his grandchildren.
Doctors and his family say he is nevertheless making a remarkable recovery since being shot in the back of the head while responding to another shooting in Mount Vernon on Dec. 15.
The 30-year police veteran is walking, talking, doing hours of physical therapy each week and likely to be released from the hospital later this month, KING-TV reported.
McClaughry, 60, told the station he’s focused on going home.
‘I wanna do it’
“I wanna do it,” he said. “And if you wanna do it, it’s gonna happen.”
McClaughry was completely incapacitated after the shooting.
In the days following it, Dr. Louis Kim, chief of neurological surgery at Harborview Medical Center, told reporters that McClaughry had displayed some reaction to localized stimulation, a sign of upper brain function, but he wasn’t responding to instructions by squeezing or moving his fingers, for example.
On a “coma scale” that runs from 3, or nearly brain-dead, to 15, or fully functioning, McClaughry was somewhere in the middle, Kim said then.
His family expressed confidence that his strength and stubbornness would help him pull through — and that has come to pass, said his daughter, April McClaughry.
“It really doesn’t surprise me all that much,” she said. “That’s just the kind of guy he is.”
McClaughry’s physical therapist, Mike Anderson, says his positivity has been a “huge factor” in his recovery thus far.
“From the beginning, Mike has had a sense of humor,” he said. “He has had a level of determination that is going to take him far in his rehabilitation.”
Doctors say there’s a chance McClaughry’s sight could return, and he hopes to eventually remember his grandchildren and see them again.
The memory loss has been especially frustrating, for both the patient and his family, April McClaughry said.
She has quit her job to help her parents full time. She started an online fundraising effort on their behalf, and other fundraisers are in the works, including a spaghetti feed at the Mount Vernon Elks Club.
Tearfully, the veteran officer said he’s been overwhelmed by the support.
“Everybody has been fabulous,” McClaughry said. “This kind of thing was so unexpected. I appreciate all of it.”
The man accused of shooting him, 44-year-old Ernesto Rivas, has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder. Court documents say he told police after his arrest that he is a gang member.