Injured almost two years ago in a car chase that nearly claimed his life, Cranberry Police Cpl. Dan Hahn then learning how to walk again.
On some days, the pain was intolerable, Hahn said. But supported by his wife, family, friends and fellow officers, he kept one goal in mind—returning to police work.
Hahn has returned to the police force on a part-time basis. Taking on administrative duties three days a week, for four hours a day, Hahn, 49, said he hopes to one day work full-time again, and maybe even get behind the wheel of a patrol car.
“That’s kind of where I want to be, back on the road,” he said.
Hahn was seriously injured after falling more than 20 feet from a highway overpass following a high-speed car chase on Feb. 14, 2011 that began in Sewickley Hills and ended on Interstate 79 in Jackson Township.
In an effort to elude police from multiple departments, the driver of the car jumped from an overpass. Hahn, not knowing what was beneath, followed.
The driver died from his injuries the next day. Hahn was flown by medical helicopter to Allegheny General Hospital, where he spent three weeks in a coma. His injuries included a broken back, a spinal cord injury, and injuries to his shoulder, sternum and multiple other fractures.
Within months of starting physical therapy, he progressed from barely being able to move his 6-foot-4 frame to taking steps with a walker, and eventually climbing the stairs.
Today, Hahn walks with a cane, although he’s hoping to get rid of that, too. The constant pain he experiences has muted from almost unbearable to a low roar.
“For the most part, the bad days are less than the good days,” he said.
Joking he wasn’t ready to retire yet, Hahn said he is excited to be back at work. He credited the township residents and staff, particularly Public Safety Director Jeff Schueler and Lt. Kevin Meyer with supporting his return to work.
“Those two have really done a lot to keep my morale going,” he said. “I’ve always felt they wanted me back here, but they wouldn’t take me back until I was ready.”
For his part, Schueler said he never doubted Hahn’s drive and determination to return to work. He noted the progress Hahn made, plus his can-do attitude, served as an inspiration to other physical therapy patients.
“It was amazing,” he said.
As always, Hahn has the support of his wife, Fritz Hahn. In the almost two years since the accident, the couple has become closer than ever.
“When something like this happens, it can either tear your apart or bring you closer together,” Fritz Hahn said. “We’re very blessed it brought us closer together.”
Faith played a large role in her husband’s recovery, Fritz Hahn said. In the months since the accident, the couple has spoken to church members, including at Orchard Hill Church in Wexford and St. Ferdinand in Cranberry, on how their beliefs guided them through the difficult times. The couple also has appeared on Word FM and Fritz Hahn said they hope to continue to speak to any groups interested in meeting with them.
She added learning he was able to return to work also boasted her husband’s continued recovery efforts. For the last month, Hahn has been mentally preparing himself for duty, she said.
“His whole demeanor changed and he was so excited when he found out the doctors cleared him to come back,” she said.
Hahn agreed returning to work has helped him regain a sense of normalcy.
“I feel really good,” he said. ‘I feel like I’m part of the team again.”