JOPLIN, Mo. — Rick Hirshey continues to recover from his injuries.
“I’m a walking talking miracle,” said JPD Ofc. Rick Hirshey.
Something Joplin Police Officer Rick Hirshey doesn’t take for granted.
“Because it entered here, and it came to rest back here in the soft tissue of my see one vertebra and going from here to here. It shattered my cheekbone. It blew up my sinuses, cracked a tooth broken jaw and cracked my C-1 vertebrae,” said Hirshey.
He knows without a doubt that it could have ended very differently
“It went just to the right of my carotid artery and just to the left of my vertebral artery. So missed both of those by millimeters. Had it hit either one of those we probably wouldn’t be sitting here having a discussion,” said Hirshey.
It’s an experience he’ll never forget, especially because a year later he’s still recovering.
“A year out we’ll know whether these are working or not or whether we have new jaw surgery again,” said Hirshey.
On March 8th 2022, Hirshey used his patrol car to block in the suspect, who then shot him through the windshield of the car.
He’s proud of the role he played, and of everyone else who did what they could to make Joplin safe.
“When you’re watching the video, everybody was running to the problem. I just happened to be the one who ran across him. It could have been any of our officers. Jasper County, Duquesne, Highway Patrol. Everybody was running out the problem,” said Hirshey.
He hates the loss of Corporal Ben Cooper and Officer Jake Reed.
“We still mourn for those guys. We still miss those guys,” said Hirshey.
He spent months on the initial recovery – getting a standing ovation when he left the hospital.
Hirshey has come a long way since then, with support from a group of fellow officers who have also experienced critical incidents.
“And so we as a group, can share things that a lot of other officers wouldn’t quite understand. And so that’s been very beneficial for me also for my wife, because my wife has got to know their wives,” said Hirshey.
Crucial to the return to normal life for both of them.
“My wife, of course, she very hesitant about me coming back to this job,” said Hirshey.
They eventually agreed it was the right decision, returning first to light duty, then as a school resource officer.
And Hirshey made a conscious decision that he won’t let that day cast a shadow over the future.
“Initially when I came back, there were times I had to tell myself, Okay, well, stop being paranoid, just do your job,” said Hirshey.
Because there’s a lot more to come for Officer Rick Hirshey.
“It was a one in a million. God’s not done with me yet,” said Hirshey.