A Naugatuck police officer who was hit by a getaway car has made a big step in his recovery.
Lt. Mark Pettinicchi took his first steps Tuesday since the day he was hit by a speeding car trying to evade his fellow officers while he was keeping an eye on a construction site on Route 63 in November.
Five surgeries, time in the hospital, and rehab stay later, Pettinicchi has been working hard to rehabilitate both his ankles and one of his legs, crushed in the crash.
NBC Connecticut was the only news station at Gaylord Physical Therapy in Cheshire when he marked the milestone.
“It’s just a little step for me, but it feels like I climbed Mt. Everest,” he said.
His wife Michele watched on cheering.
“The amount of work I’m putting in now is nothing compared to the work she’s already put in for us. Without her, family, without her support, I would be in a lot worse place that’s for sure,” said Pettinicchi.
His wife says when you’re married to a police officer you’re always on edge.
“This clearly illustrates the dangers of the job,” Michele said.
Michele Pettinicchi says when she got the call that her husband was in the hospital, it felt like a bad dream. He was just months from retiring safely.
“Everything flashed through my brain. Is he paralyzed? Will he walk again? What will I tell my sons? I have to call his parents. It was really scary,” she said.
But Tuesday, the couple celebrated the baby steps.
Other people who have helped him get this far are celebrating too.
“You have to be there for him every step of the way. No pun intended,” said Pettinicci’s physical therapist, Philip Silverio.
“On the way here today he said, ‘Today is my day,’ and I said ‘I know you did, you worked very hard for this,’” said Besmir Zaku, owner of Eagle Medical Transport, who drives Pettinicci to his rehab appointments.
Pettinicchi says he looks forward to a future on his feet and Silverio says he’s making great progress.
“Everyone recovers different. Everyone heals different. It’s hard to say how long we’re looking at and what’s to come, but I’m sure it’ll be good things,” Silverio said.
In the meantime, Pettinicchi is taking every day, one step at a time.