A maimed cop fights to regain his life in this inspiring true story.
Officer Jason Schechterle was on a routine call when a cabdriver suffering an epileptic seizure smashed into his car at more than 100 miles per hour. His cruiser exploded, and the resulting flames burned 43 percent of his body. When he reached the hospital, his hands looked like “mutilated claws.” The doctors removed most of his face to prevent infections and told his family he would be “blind, deaf, mute and probably vegetative.” But Schechterle—who fought his way into the Phoenix Police Department after years of effort—has a habit of beating the odds. Author Napoleon scrupulously guides readers through Schechterle’s teen years, spent absorbing the sounds of REO Speedwagon, excelling at golf and falling in love—and into his laudable career in the Air Force. Faithfully documented is every bump and nook on his road toward achieving his childhood dream: wearing a Phoenix Police Department badge. As the enthusiastic rookie got his bearings in the routines of police work—which involved more picking up shoplifters at Wal-Mart than high-octane shootouts—his future fate was darkly foreshadowed by events elsewhere. All across the country, police officers were dying in exploding Ford Crown Victorias, and attorney Patrick J. McGroder III—“the legal equivalent of The Terminator”—aimed to make Ford pay. Schechterle would be crucial in helping him. Napoleon, the author of several crime novels, is skilled at painting a scene in slangy strokes while balancing plotlines. But if this true story reads like a novel, it sometimes feels like the life of a saint. “He had already broken the barriers of medicine and science,” readers are told after Schechterle leaves the hospital, and “now [he] was charting new territory in the field of human potential.” Perfection can be robotic, and many readers will miss the flaws. Still, human-interest fans will enjoy the journey if they take the hyperbole with a pinch of salt.
An underdog tale replete with legal battles, gruesome surgeries and a few too many superlatives.