Police officer fighting back to health
POLICE officer Chris Neale's world was turned upside down five months ago when he was involved in a horrific crash that killed one of his colleagues.Today, having battled back from the brink of death to make an extraordinary recovery, the determined 32-year-old is setting his sights on a new target - returning to work.
POLICE officer Chris Neale's world was turned upside down five months ago when he was involved in a horrific crash that killed one of his colleagues.
Today, having battled back from life-threatening injuries to make an extraordinary recovery, the determined 32-year-old is setting his sights on a new target - a return to work.
Speaking on one of his weekly five-mile walks, Pc Neale said: “I hope, with the help of my family, friends and colleagues, I will be able to get my life back on track over the coming months.
“I'm keen to resurrect my police career as soon as possible but I'm not sure how the accident may affect that aim.”
Pc Neale was a passenger in a marked police car being driven by Pc Cheryl Lloyd when it crashed into a parked lorry in West End Road, Ipswich on June 18.
Pc Lloyd, 42, was killed in the accident, while Pc Neale was taken to Cambridge's Addenbrooke's Hospital with critical head injuries.
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After spending a number of days unconscious, he slowly began fighting back to health and left the hospital on August 8 to return home to Ipswich.
Although he has made incredible progress since the accident, the former Northgate High School pupil recognises there are plenty more hurdles still to overcome.
He makes regular visits to Icanho House, in Stowmarket, and Ipswich Hospital to receive treatment on his head injuries. He also receives regular physiotherapy and speech therapy, while part of his routine includes swimming sessions at the town's Crown Pools.
Pc Neale said: “I've been on the road to recovery for four months and I'm the first to admit there have been difficult days and many uncertainties regarding my future.
“It would be fair to say, relatively speaking, that my recovery has shown good progress.
“My life has been turned upside down. It was a life-changing incident and all the implications of it still haven't sunk in.”
With an investigation into the crash still ongoing, Pc Neale said he did not want to discuss any memories he may have surrounding the accident.
But he was keen to pay tribute to his late colleague, Pc Lloyd.
He said: “I've lost a well-respected and good officer who was also a friend. I want to thank her family for their support and their kind words.”
Pc Neale, who has worked for Suffolk police for three years, is also keen to recognise the various other people who have helped him since the accident, including his family, close friends, Suffolk police colleagues and medical experts who treated him.
CHERYL Lloyd's family today spoke of their joy at the progress being made by Pc Neale.
Tracy Flatman, Pc Lloyd's sister, said: “It's fantastic to hear he's back up and about. He has been in our hearts and minds since it happened and we've been praying for him.
“I hope he makes a 100 per cent recovery so he can go back to work. It is his dream job and we hope he can get back to doing it.
”We would like to come back next year and hopefully we'll be able to get in touch with Chris and his family.”
Derek Barrell, a force welfare officer, has monitored Pc Neale's progress closely since he left hospital, taking him on regular weekly walks around the county.
He said he forged a close bond with Pc Neale during this time.
“I greatly value my contact with Chris, who has become a very good friend,” he said.
“Along with everyone in the constabulary, we all look forward to seeing him continue making good progress on the road to recovery.
“I'm just one of dozens of people who have helped Chris, from the chief constable down. It's been a privilege to spend time with Chris and his family.”