FLOYD COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) — It has been nearly five months since an ambush shootout claimed the lives of three law enforcement officers and a K-9, and injured several others.
Floyd County Deputy Darrin Lawson was one of the injured men, having been shot in the leg – just below the knee.
For more than four months, he was in an endless cycle of surgeries.
“We couldn’t get a definitive answer on a timeline, and whether I’m going to be functional enough to return to work,” Lawson said. “I was missing, I think, four and a half to five centimeters of bone. The only thing holding it together was this big metal contraption.
After 11 surgeries, Lawson made the decision to amputate his leg below the knee. He says if it was above the knee he would have tried to save his leg.
“The doctor thought it would make it mentally worse if I took it out, but it’s actually quite the opposite. I’m in a much better place now that that’s not the case anymore, and I don’t have to see him every day.
He said he has read countless articles about injuries similar to his and spoken to others who have had amputations, including an army veteran.
“He hikes in the mountains and goes to Colorado and does all these things and runs marathons and you think if he can do it, why can’t I do it,” Lawson said.
Doctors hoped to keep fighting to save her leg, but Lawson says missing big moments in her 3-year-old daughter’s life made the choice easier.
“I actually missed his birthday. We had a bunch of inflatables brought in and set up in the back, and I couldn’t even get out, so that day pretty much sealed the deal that he was was giving off,” he said.
Lawson faces new challenges after the amputation, such as phantom limb pain.
“Right now I’m sitting here and my toes hurt, but they’re not here. It’s really strange,” he said. “When it starts, I’ll be watching it trying to tell my brain that there’s no way it’s going to hurt out there.”
On December 8, doctors hope to remove the stitches and then he will begin the process of fitting for a prosthesis.
Lawson hopes to walk in the spring.
” I can not wait. I think about it every day. Being able to walk normally to the bathroom or do something normal, walk to the kitchen normally. I can’t wait to drive. I haven’t driven since June 30,” Lawson said.
He said he was already planning a hike with the boys.
“As soon as they give me the green light to walk and climb a hill like that, I’m going to hike, I have to get out,” he said. “Me and some buddies are going to pack up and hike the Appalachian Trail for a few days.”
In addition to the physical pain Lawson is dealing with, the emotions of the night of June 30 have shaken him. He says he spent months bottling it all up.
“You can’t ignore it because if you do it will drain you and I ignored it for a long time,” Lawson said. “I’m glad I finally made the decision to start therapy. I was probably in a bad patch before.
He says he started therapy about seven weeks ago and sees a big change in himself.
“I’m not that angry. I’m angry talking to you while I’m sitting here, but he helped calm me down a lot,” Lawson said.
Lawson also leans on his brothers in blue who were at the scene of the tragedy, going through each day together.
“Everyone listened to what I had to say, and they will always be there, especially Dusty and Chris who were on stage that day when it started,” he said. “They need to be taken care of just as much as I am. They’ve been there too, it wasn’t just me. Being able to talk to them knowing they are always there has given me peace of mind.
Lawson says his goal is to one day return to work as an assistant, but that won’t be until he feels comfortable on his prosthesis and is able to run again.
Lawson says there is no way to move on from this day forward, but as a community they must keep the faith and keep going one day at a time.
“The only thing you can do is think of them and make sure the boys are honored and never forgotten because things like this will never go away. That scar on Floyd County will always be there. The scar on me will always be there it will never go away You just have to do what they would want you to do which is to move forward as best we can do the best we can and that’s what I going to do and I’m sure most of Floyd County will do the same,” Lawson said.
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