Officer Del Pearson sits down with officers who saved his life - FOX 32 News Chicago

Officer Del Pearson sits down with officers who saved his life; EXCLUSIVE

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

It has been four months since a bullet nearly took the life of Chicago Police Officer Del Pearson. Now, for the first time, he and the two officers credited with saving his life that night sat down for a television interview to relive the fateful moments that have forever cemented their friendship.

"I can remember looking at the offender and we were just shooting back and forth at each other till we both ran out of bullets," Pearson recalled during an interview at the 4th District Station where the three officers work on the city's southeast side.

Pearson, an eight year veteran working on the night shift tactical team, was on patrol at about 10:30 p.m. in the 8400 block of South Kingston. He tried to question four young men suspected of violating the city's curfew. One ran. Pearson gave chase. When he cornered the suspect on the porch of a house the man opened fired.

Sgt. Christopher Kapa, the tactical team supervisor, recalls the moments that followed as vividly as the night they happened.

"The first radio calls came out of shots fired and then followed shortly thereafter by ‘I'm hit'," Kapa said.

Kapa, a 17 year veteran and fellow tactical officer Kirsten Lund, who's been on the job six years, were the first officers to reach Pearson who was lying in the parkway.

"[I] looked down at him and he was already pale, eyes closed and just massive amounts of blood covering his shirt, his vest, his pants," Kapa said.

Fearing an ambulance could take five to ten minutes to get to the scene, Kapa quickly decided he and Lund would have to take Pearson to the hospital in the back of his police car.

The closest hospital, Advocate Trinity, was a mile and a half away. It was a race against time. Kapa was screaming over the radio to have the hospital ready. Officer Lund was in the back seat pressing on Pearson's chest with a green fleece, trying to keep him from bleeding out.

"Just trying to keep Del talking to me and make sure he was staying awake and conscious," Lund said.

Pearson was trying to stay as calm as he could as Lung hovered over him.

"I would tell her, 'I'm gonna pass out, I'm gonna pass out' and she would wake me up, wake me up and try to keep me awake," Pearson said.

Pearson had been shot twice. His protective vest stopped the first bullet. The second slipped under the shoulder strap. It severed a main artery to Pearson's left arm. He lost nearly three quarters of his blood.

"After I saw him go into the ER, I didn't think it looked good at all," Kapa said.

Once doctors at Trinity stabilized Pearson, he was rushed to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn where he underwent eight hours of surgery. Twice during the night hospital staff asked Pearson's family if they wanted a priest to give him last rights.

Kapa feared Pearson might died that night. Lund said the hardest part for all the officers who crowded in the hospital was the waiting, which left them feeling helpless. She said they call came together and prayed.

Eight days later, Pearson left the hospital to the cheers of fellow officers who lined up and saluted him. Pearson, Kapa and Lund were all later honored for their heroism. For Pearson, that night's chaos redefined two friendships.

"How do you thank somebody for saving your life, you can't just buy them a $50 gift card to Cabelas or a charm on a necklace, which I did for both of them, but you can't thank them enough," Pearson said, "so, you're lifelong friends, they're part of my family now and they're included in graduation parties and birthday parties and you'll share this memory and be friends for the rest of your life.

Pearson is still in rehabilitation and has been told it could be a year or more before he is able to return to work. On November 4th, members of the police department are holding a fundraiser for Pearson and his family in Merrionete Park. Friends have set up a website for tickets and donations at www.adayfordel.org

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