Paralyzed Police Officer Honored with Award
SPRINGFIELD TWP., Ohio – A police officer left partially paralyzed when he was hit by a drunk driver was awarded the Purple Heart for Law Enforcement Thursday evening.
Springfield Twp. retired police officer Mark Dodez was surrounded by friends, family and fellow officers during the ceremony at the Springfield Twp. Hall.
“There’s a long way to go therapy-wise, being able to walk. Just being able to walk, I want to walk, this wheelchair, is for, yeah, not so much,” Dodez said.
On March 31, 2011, Dodez was on duty, looking for something a suspect threw out the window on Arlington Road.
Dodez was out of his cruiser and near the side of the road when he was hit by a drunk driver.
The driver took off, then returned to the scene and was arrested.
Dodez suffered a severe spinal injury and is partially paralyzed.
“There’s a long way to go before I’m better,” Dodez said.
Dodez said he had a set-back when a surgery did not go well, but he is determined to make it up and literally, get back on his feet.
While his policing days are over, he has fond memories of them.
“I just love dealing with people, it was the best part of the job. It wasn’t going up and telling the guy who is under suspension, ‘get out of the car.’ It was, ‘have a good day, don’t do it again,’” Dodez said.
Fellow officers remain in his life.
Officer John Lombardi helps Dodez keep active in his favorite hobby – raising snakes.
“So I knew that part of his recovery and his healing process would be him having his snakes, so I knew I had to step up,” Lombardi said.
Dodez’ wife Lisa thanked the community for their show of support during these trying times.
“(There has been) a lot of emotion … a lot of up and down emotion. Mostly this evening, (I’m) very proud of Mark. He deserves everything,” Lisa Dodez said.
“I’m going to walk, one day,” Mark Dodez said.
The Springfield Twp. Police Department would like to thank the community for their support of Dodez and his family.
The driver who hit Dodez was sentenced to six years in prison.