Trooper Paralyzed in Crash Returns Home for Thanksgiving After More Than 2 Years of Treatment

North Carolina State Trooper Chris Wooten has been at a rehab facility in Atlanta since July 2019 after he was involved in a motorcycle accident while chasing a suspect

Trooper Christopher Wooten
Trooper Christopher Wooten. Photo: North Carolina State Highway Patrol

It'll be a very happy Thanksgiving for one North Carolina State Trooper as he returns home for the first time in over two years after getting paralyzed in a crash.

Trooper Christopher Wooten was chasing a suspect on his motorcycle in Mecklenburg County on July 22, 2019, when he was hit by a pick-up truck and "seriously injured", according to the North Carolina State Highway Patrol (NCSHP).

Days after the incident, NCSHP announced that Wooten suffered a severe spinal injury, which left him paralyzed from the neck down.

The now-retired trooper spent the last two years recovering from his injuries at the Shepherd Center, an Atlanta-based rehabilitation facility, before he was finally cleared to return home to Cramerton on Tuesday, according to Fox affiliate WJZY.

And the moment certainly didn't disappoint.

"[It's] like Christmas 10 times over, we're really excited," Wooten told the outlet. "It feels like a dream. We've been looking forward to this for so long. For it to finally be here is really amazing."

Added Wooten's wife, Sharon: "We feel like little kids waiting for Christmas Day to get here."

The welcome home was nothing short of amazing for Wooten, who has been recovering from his injuries in the hospital and Atlanta rehab facility.

As he worked to get stronger, Wooten's family, co-workers and community rallied around him, with the NCSHP providing monthly updates on his condition on their Facebook page.

On the two-year anniversary of the accident in July, the NCSHP wrote on Facebook, "Chris has been a symbol of courage and strength as he has progressed through his recovery after that frightful day. We have followed Chris's journey closely, and the strides that he has made over the last two years have been nothing short of astonishing!"

Given their unwavering support over the years, it was no surprise that the NCSHP took the lead on organizing a special welcome home event for Wooten when the time finally came.

On Monday, the NCSHP announced that they were "ecstatic" to welcome Wooten home and were planning to escort him into town on Tuesday with troopers from "other partner law enforcement agencies and supporters throughout Georgia and South Carolina."

The public was also invited to the event, with the NCSHP noting they were "welcome to observe the procession of vehicles as Trooper Wooten and his family pass through and finally reach their comforting home!"

Kaye Lackey, who helped organize the event, told WJZY: "As far as the community goes, they have just really embraced him. We have all cried many tears and we've told many stories of 'We can't wait until Chris gets home,' and we're kinda reliving the past and now we've got lots of memories to make in the future."

On the day of the event, community members lined the streets holding flags and signs. As Wooten drove by in a car, people cheered and waved for the heroic trooper and law enforcement vehicles rang their sirens, WJZY reported.

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"It was amazing to see all the troopers who came out to welcome us back to North Carolina," Wooten told the outlet. "We've gotten lucky and gotten to experience how people feel about us."

"It took my breath away," added Sharon. "I just immediately started tearing up."

With Thanksgiving just one day away, Wooten told the outlet he's excited to enjoy food, football and his family. He's also going into the holiday with a renewed perspective on life.

"It's tough, I miss running, walking, doing things I used to do," he explained to WJZY. "It's funny how you take a lot of that for granted as well. When you're like that, you don't think about how lucky you are just to do a simple walk around town. You don't appreciate it like maybe you should."

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