Community supports police officer after stroke
By: Carly O'Keefe
By: Carly O'Keefe
Du Quoin, IL - Officer Dan Bell's police cruiser still sits in front of his Du Quoin home, waiting for his next shift to start.
"We're gonna leave it here as long as we can and hopefully when it leaves, he'll be driving it," said Assistant Du Quoin Police Chief Michael Ward.
By all accounts, Bell ate healthy and exercised regularly. Family members say he sometimes even lectured them to get in shape. But in mid July, Bell, a 44-year-old former Marine and current Du Quoin Police officer suffered a hemorrhagic stroke. Family members say initially doctors warned due to damage to his brain stem caused by the episode, Bell would probably never again be able to breathe, eat, or sustain his basic life functions without the help of machines. Bell proved them wrong.
"He's been released from ICU today, and he's going to be moved to another floor," said Bell's sister-in-law Nikki Saunders.
Still, while Bell is on the road to recovery, it may be a long road back to patrolling the streets of Du Quoin. Yet, many folks in town hold out hope he'll once again wear his badge.
"All you've gotta do is call him and he's the first one to offer to help so I think everybody else has seen that in him, and they're willing to help him in his time of need," Saunders said.
In Du Quoin, the community has rallied around it's officer in need. The Du Quoin Police Department is selling T-shirts as a fund raiser, and donation jars sit on every convenience store counter in town.
"I overheard the clerk the other night say people come in and drop money in the jar and say ‘oh, he's my favorite officer, I miss seeing him around," said Bell's brother Keith Bell.
Bell's family says the Du Quoin officer still knows his job, and is eager to do whatever he can to get back to work.
"He had his police cap on today and was sitting up in a chair," said Saunders.
But until he can once again don his full uniform, those he's sworn to serve and protect are doing their best to help Bell and his family.
"It's really been outstanding the people that's come out and made monetary donation, or just sending cards, his wife reads cards to him every day. And he acknowledges that. And he's going to be really proud whenever he gets back," said Keith Bell.
Upcoming fundraisers aim to assist in paying Bell's medical expenses. Du Quoin Police plan to hold a donation "road block" in downtown Du Quoin on Saturday, August 19 from 6 a.m. to noon.