I-TEAM: Cleveland officer struck by hit-and-run driver expresses gratitude for survival this Thanksgiving

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — A local police officer opened up to the FOX 8 I-TEAM about giving thanks this holiday weekend as he never has. This comes after he survived an especially violent hit-and-run crash while on duty.

Months ago, a hit-and-run driver struck Cleveland Police Officer Rich Strunk as he directed traffic in the warehouse district, throwing him up into the air. Security cameras captured the incident and showed the driver leaving the officer there for dead.

“Basically, I thought I was gonna die. But slowly getting better," Officer Strunk said.  “This one I’m looking at a little bit differently. This could not have been if I didn’t survive it. Just lucky I am alive. I’m still looking at everyone a little bit differently.”

The officer said the experience left him critically hurt and thankful in so many ways.

He told the I TEAM, “I’m thankful  to be alive. Thankful for my wife’s help. She’s gone through a lot. She’s stressing out. But, without her there’s no way I could have done this by myself.”

He’s also forever thankful to Amy Sharo, a citizen passing by who stopped to help. She was a complete stranger and  also got on the officer’s police radio to call for help.

“Can’t thank her enough. You know? She helped me out. Everyone else was just driving around," Officer Strunk pointed.

No one has been arrested in this case and the hit-and-run driver has not been identified.

No one in the car ever gave up that driver, either.

No one ever had the conscience or the courage to do the right thing. So many people would be thankful to see that.

“Pretty hard when they just rip your career and your life away from you," Officer Struck told the I-TEAM.

He's had a hard road to recovery, suffering many injuries.

And while his recovery is far from over, Officer Strunk holds out hope, believing that one day he will get back on the job doing police work.

He says he's thankful for a second chance.

“Hopefully I’ll be able to come back. You know. Hopefully, they’ll be able to fix all this.”

The FBI and Crime Stoppers are offering a $15,000 reward for a tip leading to an arrest.

Continuing coverage, here.

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