CHICAGO (CBS) — He nearly died after being shot in the line of duty. On Thursday, Chicago Police Officer Del Pearson thanked the officers who saved his life and revealed he’ll be the official starter for the Police Memorial Foundation’s annual “Run to Remember” 5K this weekend.
“I’m doing great. I feel lucky,” Pearson said in an interview at Police Headquarters on Thursday.
CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez reports Pearson shared his big plans for this weekend, and thanked everyone who wished him well and prayed for his recovery, after he was shot in the chest in March.
Pearson was severely wounded on March 19, when he was shot in the chest while chasing a suspect in the South Chicago neighborhood. He was hospitalized for eight days after losing nearly two thirds of his blood.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller Reports
Even before his shooting, Pearson said he made sure to tell his wife and children he loves them before he went to work every day.
“I always gave them a kiss, and told each and every one of them that I love them, every night before I left for work,” Pearson said. “Because I might not come home that night.”
That night nearly came on March 19, when Pearson was shot chasing a suspect down an alley.
Pearson nearly bled to death, but thanks to the quick thinking of his colleagues, he got to a hospital just in time.
His fellow officers did not wait for an ambulance to get to him, instead driving him to the hospital in the back of a squad car.
Pearson said he “had no idea” how close it was to being a fatal shooting.
“I remember every aspect of the incident,” he said. “When it happened … I couldn’t move my arm. I went to use my arm, and couldn’t use my arm, and that’s when I saw blood trickling down my arm, and I just assumed I was shot in the arm. I never felt, ever, being shot.”
“I never was concerned my life was in danger, until we started racing to the hospital, and I was having trouble breathing,” Pearson added.
Officer Kristen Lund and Police Sgt. Chris Kapa drove Pearson to Advocate Trinity Hospital in Kapa’s unmarked squad car after Pearson was shot. Doctors have said it was only a matter of minutes until Pearson would have bled to death.
“Kristen Lund jumped in to help me in the back seat, and be with me, while Sergeant Kapa drove and raced me to the hospital,” Pearson said. “That was, absolutely, it saved my life. That was the number one thing that actually saved my life.”
After he was brought to Trinity, he was transferred to Advocate Christ Medical Center, which has a level one trauma center. Doctors said the bullet had hit a major artery under his collarbone.
Pearson was in surgery for seven hours to repair the damage and went home eight days later.
Now, he’ll be kicking off the Police Memorial Foundation’s annual “Run To Remember” on Saturday, a 5K run and walk that helps raise money for the families of officers who are seriously wounded or killed in the line of duty.
“It’s a great, great honor for me to participate,” Pearson said. “To show appreciation to – not only to the fund and what they’ve done for me – but also to the people who are participating in the run/walk.”
Pearson said he doesn’t know yet when he’ll go back to work, but said he doesn’t think his wife is worried about him going back on the job.
“She’s behind me 100 percent, and always has been. She’s a policeman’s wife, and that’s part of the acceptance, and part of the marriage that you have to be aware of,” Pearson said.
The Run to Remember kicks off at 8 a.m. on Saturday at the Chicago Police Memorial in Gold Star Families Park, just east of Soldier Field.