PHOENIX - A Phoenix police officer was hospitalized for nearly a month after a wrong-way driver crashed into the officer's SUV on New Years Day 2021, and just over a year later, he's returned to work.
The Phoenix Police Department said on Jan. 1, 2021, a witness reported seeing a wrong-way driver at about 6 a.m. on Cactus Road near 26th Street. The witness continued following the wrong-way vehicle, which eventually crashed into the police SUV.
Officer Chase McCance suffered serious injuries. In a Jan. 5 post, the Phoenix Police Department asked the public to keep him in their thoughts as he continued to recover.
Phoenix Police Officer Chase McCance
A couple of weeks later on Jan. 27, Phoenix Police said McCance's recovery has moved along quicker than expected. The social media post read, "On January 1st, Officer McCance was hit by a wrong-way driver and has been in the hospital recovering. Today, we’ve been told he will be headed home very soon! His recovery has been moving along quicker than expected!"
Vitalant, a blood donation nonprofit organization, explained in a Nov. 9 email how blood donations held McCance recover and come home to his newborn baby.
"First responders rushed him to the hospital with multiple broken bones and internal bleeding. He required multiple blood transfusions while doctors operated to try to find the source of this internal bleeding. He spent more than one month in the hospital recovering from his injuries before he was finally able to come home to welcome his new baby boy in March and able to return to work on light duty in May," the nonprofit said.
The wrong-way driver was also hospitalized and is 22-year-old Dylan Johnson. He was booked into jail on suspicion of aggravated assault, DUI and wrong-way driving.
He was sentenced to more than four years in prison and has since turned 23.
Dylan Johnson, 22
'I’ll always be grateful to the people who donated blood'
McCance is now taking the opportunity to raise awareness about the very thing that saved his life.
"I’ve consistently donated blood throughout my life, but never thought I would be on the receiving end," McCance said. "I’ll always be grateful to the people who donated blood and gave me the gift of getting to see my kids grow up."
Reflecting on the crash, he said, "Oh man. How blessed am I just to still be here, seeing how destroyed that car was."
Vitalant held a blood drive that featured first responders, rolling up their sleeves to donate.
McCance knows firsthand the importance of having a good supply of blood on hand.
"It's not a lot to ask, it's not a lot to give, and for me, it means the world. It means waking up next to my wife every morning. It means seeing my kids grow up and play baseball. It means getting back out there to the community and doing the job I love to do," he said.
Learn more about donating blood at Vitalant here.
Officer McCance returns to work
On Jan. 11, the Phoenix Police Department said McCance officially returned to work.
"Chase fought for his life and won. Today, after more than a year of intensive rehab, he’s hitting the streets again for his first shift back. Welcome back Chase, we are so proud of you," the department tweeted.
Along with the tweet was also a video showing the officer gearing up for his first day back on the job.
"It was like any other day. I woke up in the morning, kissed my wife goodbye, was driving to my first call of the day, and that's when the accident happened," McCance said. "I had just found this job that I loved, and I got that taken away from me, and it was that drive and desire to get back out there just to do good for the city and for the people."
He went to rehab nearly every day for a year, crediting his family for seeing him through the tough times.
"I have a three-year-old son, and we welcomed a newborn this year in the midst of it all. Just getting back to being the fun dad, the dad that can run around and wrestle. That's really what motivated me," he said.
Getting back into protecting Phoenix felt like second nature to him.
"It just kind of all came back. You go out, talk to people, help them out," he said.
At this point, he feels nearly back to normal, and at the end of the day, he's very grateful.
"I mean, that car was mangled and here I am, walking out a police officer of all things," he said. "I am blessed."
McCance says he and his family have forgiven the man who hit him and hold nothing against him.
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