Rural Pennsylvania Officer Suffers Severe Back Injury on Duty

Rural Pennsylvania Officer Suffers Severe Back Injury on Duty

Sgt Eric Colamarino incurs debilitating injury during standard ordinance call

 

In a rural township, tucked away from the big city of Pittsburgh in Southwestern Pennsylvania, a small police department made up of mostly part time officers patrols the roads and hills. Taking every call day or night. From horrible accidents to domestic squabbles, they are there for their communities, ready to protect and serve.

At this particular Police Department, Borough of Penn PD, only one of those officers is seen as full time because of the hours he accumulates. His name is Sgt. Eric Colamarino. And he has suffered a career threatening accident while on duty.

The Officer in Charge at the time of the accident, Ofc. Aaron Wentroble, states that Sgt. Colamarino is a very special Law Enforcement Officer.

“Sgt. Colamarino is about as big of a go-getter as you can get in a LEO. He’s our only full-time officer by hours, while still receiving part time benefits. Regardless, he’s been the driving force behind our department by putting in the most hours on duty, handling clerical functions, maintaining neighboring jurisdictions we’re contracted to provide policing services for, and all while being the only LEO on duty for three boroughs at any one time.”

While taking on all those duties, Sgt Colamarino still found the time to assist others in their career paths. Ofc Wentroble goes on to say, “He [Eric] was gracious enough to help in me getting my state certification back to active after taking a leave of absence from police work.” 

Sgt. Eric Colamarino is an exemplary police officer and a pillar of the Boroughs under his watch and care.

However, we know the most dedicated officers run into harm’s way more often than others. And sometimes the odds are not in their favor when they do.

On a call during the summer months when the Covid 19 lockdown put many first responders at great risk, Sgt. Colamarino was injured doing ordinance work that resulted in him falling through a porch that was in dangerously poor condition. The fall ended up severely hurting his back and knee in the process.

The National 9-99 Police and Sheriff Foundation was alerted to this situation and sprang into action after learning of the financial and physical difficulties incurred.

“This is the very reason the 9-99 Foundation was set up in the first place.”, Chairman Drew Howitt of the 9-99 Foundation points out. “We know benefits, while helpful, provided by cities and unions can help mitigate disaster, too often fall short of a Law Enforcement Officer’s basic family needs. LEO’s like Sgt. Colamarino deserve our help and the help of all who support the best and brightest where they live.”

Ofc Wentroble concurs. “Sgt. Colamarino is certainly worthy of any assistance being offered as his injury has taken his main source of income until he’s medically cleared to return to full time, active-duty status. I personally am grateful that the 999 Foundation is considering his application for assistance.” 

The National 9-99 Police and Sheriff Foundation will certainly step up for Sgt Eric Colamarino. And we ask that during this holiday season, we remember our brothers and sisters in the big cities and small communities across this great nation that are struggling for any reason. We need them. Everyone does.

All who care to, may also give to Sgt Colamarino’s Crowdfund site. Thank you for giving what you can and please keep Eric and his loved ones in your prayers this Holiday season.

 

Slow but sure path to recovery for Denton (TX) Police Officer

Slow but sure path to recovery for Denton (TX) Police Officer

999 Grant Award Winner Ofc Urban Rodriguez making progress after being shot 4 times from close range.

 

Grant Award Update:

Following a tragic shooting that left him hanging onto life in 2019, Patrol Officer Urbano Rodriguez of the Denton Police Department and his family were in dire need of assistance. The prospects were grim, benefits were minimal and only with the courage and conviction of Urban and his wife Carrie did they continue to provide for their children, Gabriel (7) and Madeline (3) during a very slow and painful recovery.

The National 9-99 Police and Sheriff Foundation quickly awarded Urban and Carrie some financial relief. Along with the assistance of the 999, the Thin Blue Line Family of supporters and Nonprofits, the future for Urban and his family are now much brighter. In the last few months, Urban is regaining his speech and is working very hard to walk again. We know he will do both and much more.

According to Carrie Rodriguez, Urban’s wife, “Urban is doing well. With the help of Adaptive Driving Access and the ATO in Dallas, we were able to have a rental van to get Urban around to his appointments before finalizing the purchase of our van in September. Backing the Blue Denton helped us with a fundraiser car wash to raise funds, which we used to purchase a van for Urban.  The 100 club of Denton and the Denton Police Officer Association have also been very supportive during Urban's recovery.”

The collective support has touched the Rodriguez family, and the 9-99 wants to help even more.

Mrs. Rodriguez continues her thanks, “And of course, The National 9-99 Police and Sheriff Foundation has been helpful to us as well, as we try and navigate our new normal and try to figure out where our lives will lead next.”

Times are still hard on the family and with many prayers answered, there are still hills to climb to achieve full recovery.

“As of now we are still in a rental home looking for our permanent solution, but we are so grateful to be where we are and have the support we have! And we are very thankful to have Urban home for Christmas.” 

“Urban is now attending an amazing program called REACT Neuro-rehab in Addison. This is a self-pay program offered by this Nonprofit Organization, and we think he’ll be getting technically advanced, computer guided ‘C-brace’, which comes from a company called Ottobock.
 
As is evidenced in the photo, even tragedy cannot stop the human spirit of our brothers and sisters. Please keep the Rodriguez family in your thoughts and prayers during the Christmas season, and if you have a few extra dollars to help this worthy family as they fight for normalcy again, you can make a donation.

Happy Holidays from us at the 999 Foundation and check back here for more updates on Ofc. Rodriguez and his family.

Grant Recipient Phillip Roselle

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Phillip Roselle has given 30 years of service as a Patrolman with the Norwalk Police Department. He was accidentally shot by his sergeant during a gun training accident and now has permanent nerve damage in his right hand, still has the bullet in his rib, and has developed PTSD. 6 months after the shooting, his kidneys failed and he is now on dialysis. This has been a nightmare for his entire family, especially his 9- and 14-year-old sons who have been present 3 times when the ambulances have come to take their dad away in oxygen. He has been fighting Worker’s Comp to receive coverage for this on-duty incident, and is being asked to accept early retirement at 70% of what he would normally receive. Phillip and his wife Debbie have been actively battling the city and department for what they deserve, and the grant from the 999 Foundation will ease some of their daily stress of bills that continue to pile up. There has been extensive media coverage on his story, so check out the below links to learn more about his story.

News 12 - Veteran Officer Still Suffering 1 Year After Accidental Shooting

The Hour - Shot Officer's Compensation Claim Still Under Fire

The Hour - Cop Shot in On-Duty Accident Denied Worker's Compensation

The Defense Maven - Worker's Comp Denies Benefits to Cop Who Was Shot On-Duty During Training

Greenwich Time - Norwalk Cop Shot Last Year in Need of Kidney Transplant 

Law Enforcement Today Behind the Uniform Video

Law Enforcement Today Video

Grant Recipient Justin Scott

Justin Scott has given 14 years of service with the Converse County Sheriff's Office in Wyoming and received the Combat Cross, the Life-Saving Cross twice, and the Distinguished Service Award. He medically retired as the Undersheriff of Converse County, Wyoming after he was involved in a high-speed pursuit crash with a suspect, from which he was severely injured and developed PTSD. When we awarded him the grant, he said, “What you guys are doing is amazing. Your generosity will assist me while I attend the University of Wyoming. School starts next week.” He hopes to study organizational and outdoor leadership so he can continue to be a productive member of his community and help with remote backcountry experiences. Justin also provided us with these photos: one with his wife Kylea Scott in the Snowy Mountain Range and one of him as Undersheriff at Natural Bridge Park with the disclaimer that he didn’t love wearing the cowboy hat, but he does follow the code of the west. We are grateful he’s allowed us to share his story, and hope to stay in touch so we can see him thrive in his community!

Copline Sponsorship

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Copline is the first international law enforcement officers hotline in the country whose listeners are retired law enforcement officers. Active officers can call 24/7 and be assured that their call is 100% confidential and the listeners bring their knowledge and understanding of many of the stressors that officers go through on and off the job. The 999 Foundation is excited to award them a grant as well as serve as a partner in conjunction with NEP Law Enforcement Labor Services moving forward.

Grant Recipient Eric Paz

Eric Paz spent 12 years with the Ventura County Sheriff's Office, serving as a law enforcement officer since the age of 20. He is an active volunteer with the Big Paws Canine Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing therapy canines to disabled veterans and first responders injured in the line of duty. (Take a look at the photo of his service dog Toby!) Eric is studying to get a degree in psychology to help other officers experiencing PTSD, and the grant from the 999 Foundation will help with his schooling. His other photos showcase him during an active hunt for a murder suspect and with his family at church this past Christmas. 

Testimonial from Justin Ellis

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We received the following testimonial from Justin Ellis about the impact that the $1000 donation had on him: "Thanks to the donation from the 9-99 Foundation, I was able to complete four physical therapy training sessions at REACT. These are two-hour sessions where I worked with two different trainers who pushed me towards a goal. Mine was to stand in my leg braces and build up my endurance & strength. Due to me pushing myself and having this money to make these sessions happen, for the first time in two years I was able to stand without a walker in my leg braces for our family Christmas photos. This was an incredible experience for me, and for both my children and wife to see me stand after it being so long since I last stood. Thank you from the bottom of my heart."

Donation to Family of Gardena Fallen Officer

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On November 15, Gardena Police Motorcycle Officer Toshio Hirai passed away after colliding with another vehicle. We immediately launched a community crowdfunding campaign and were able to give $72,000 to his wife Kristin and 2-year-old son Takeo. While we are not able to ease the loss of the fallen hero, we hope that this contribution and thoughts and prayers of their local and law enforcement community will provide a support system.

CONTRIBUTION TO INJURED UTAH OFFICER

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“My job is to protect lives,” said Officer Robert Jackson. “And if I have to risk mine to save somebody else, I’m going to do that.” This is the attitude of one of the officers we are able to support through the National 9-99 Police and Sheriff Foundation.

Officer Jackson from Kaysville, Utah responded to a call of a man who had doused himself in gasoline. He and three other officers arrived to find the man holding a lighter and attempted to de-escalate the situation. When that failed, Officer Jackson courageously attempted to take the lighter, jeopardizing his safety as the man managed to ignite it.

As a result, Officer Jackson received extensive burns on his legs and calves that require surgery and his left arm was burned from his wrist to his shoulder. He spent two weeks in the University Hospital burn unit. Recently married and with a baby on the way, these injuries pose a hardship on his family.

The National 9-99 Police and Sheriff Foundation has a scholarship fund for Emergency Relief situations like this, where we can provide immediate crisis support for officers and their families. The foundation contributed $1,000 to Officer Jackson and his family to show support and to help them get back on their feet.

Thin Blue Line Ball Sponsorship

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The National 9-99 Police and Sheriff Foundation recently had the privilege of sponsoring $5,000 toward the 2018 Thin Blue Line Ball hosted by America’s Defenders, an organization run by veterans, law enforcement and their spouses. We were proud to be supporting their programs of providing service dogs to veterans and officers with PTSD and recognizing officers who had died in the line of duty. It was a humbling to spend the evening honoring the fallen and showing gratitude toward those who protect the community every day. A video of law enforcement officers who had lost their lives over the past year was shown to the audience during the night. As civilians, it was shocking to see just how many there were that haven't been publicized nationally. This event was an opportunity to celebrate their lives alongside 400 law enforcement officers, their families and others who support these heroes.

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CONTRIBUTION TO PALM SPRINGS POA MEMORIAL FUND

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Our hearts are heavy as we donate $1,000 to the Palm Springs Police Officers Association Memorial Fund in memory of fallen officers Jose Gilbert Vega and Lesley Zerebny. After responding to a family disturbance call, officers Vega and Zerebny had asked a man to step outside right before he started shooting at them from behind the closed front door. They both died from their injuries.

Officer Vega was due to retire this year after serving for 35 years. He wasn’t scheduled to work on Saturday, but had picked up an overtime shift. A father of 8, he was continuously trying to make the community and department better. When the department needed a training officer, he stepped up.

Officer Zerebny had only been an officer for a year and a half, but she was described as a “wonderful, young, dedicated female officer that pressed forward every day to make it better for everybody else.” She had just returned to work from maternity leave after giving birth to her now 4-month-old daughter.

The loss of these two heroes is a tragedy for the department and the entire law enforcement community.

Update October 2017: Over the past year, NEP, which founded the National 9-99 Police and Sheriff Foundation, helped raise over $450,000 for the PSPOA Memorial Fund. In addition to the $1 million raised within the community, there were substantial funds given to the families and even enough to dedicate a four-mile stretch of highway 111 as the “Police Officer Jose ‘Gil’ Vega and Police Officer Lesley Zerebny Memorial Highway.”

CONTRIBUTION TO FALLEN UHP TROOPER'S FAMILY

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Our first contribution has been given to the family of Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Eric Ellsworth. UHP Trooper Ellsworth was assisting with traffic around a low-hanging powerline and exited his vehicle to warn a semi-truck driver who would have otherwise caught the wire. He was unintentionally struck by another vehicle, causing critical injuries before he passed away several days later.

Ellsworth leaves behind a wife and three young boys. Beyond the emotional loss they are experiencing, they are now in a position of paying for a funeral and medical bills without his income. The National 9-99 Police and Sheriff Foundation has an Emergency Relief Support fund designated to provide immediate crisis support to families who face these situations, and we were able to contribute $500 to UHP Trooper Ellsworth’s family.