Justice for Mary and Dan

Disabled at 23 by High Speed Police Chase

Sanford FamilyHey, my name is Dan Sanford and I’m 23 years old.  My Mom and Dad are Mary and Bob.  I’m the youngest in the family with an older brother Jim who is a zookeeper in Kansas City, MO and a sister Krys who is in the medical field here in St. Paul.  I went to Chelsea Heights Grade School, Murray Junior High and graduated from Como Park High School in 2005.
I was always active growing up. I love all sports especially baseball and hockey. I was on the baseball and basketball teams while in school.  I also love to bowl, fish, play golf and do anything outdoors.  I used to be a really good tree climber, too.  Guess those days are gone. 
After high school I got a job at the Leaflet Missal Company.  I’m in charge of the shipping department but do a little of everything. This is really a great company because even though I was away from work for at least 6 months they saved my job and even when I came back with a limited schedule worked with me so I could have the time for therapy and doctor appointments.

Celebration turned tragic

My life was totally normal until Aug. 27, 2008.  That was Mari’s 21st birthday.  We had gone out to celebrate at a local restaurant with our friends and family.  We were putting her presents into the trunk of my car when a police chase got out of control. The cars sped up the street and rear-ended the car behind us crushing us between them. I don’t remember just how but I was able to push Mari and I out of the way so we were not killed, only our legs were crushed.
I remember hearing the sirens, seeing the white light above the stop light change, and seeing the police car’s flashing lights.  I heard screeching tires, the sound of the glass breaking and then a big boom.  I heard yelling, a dog barking then the ambulance and a fire truck.  By now Mari and I were just lying on the ground holding hands with rain falling on us.  The paramedics arrived and started to help.  Mari and I were still conscience so they asked us a lot of questions.  Had we been drinking, how old we were, whom they should call and if we knew what had happened.  I remember them asking me if I had clean cloths on and I remember answering “not any more”.  I remember them cutting off my cloths, putting on a neck brace then putting me on a stretcher for the ride to the hospital.  Mari and I were separated now because she had her own paramedics to help her and she was hurt worse than I was.
By this time I was pretty much out of it and don’t remember too much for a couple of days.  They were giving me a lot of drugs to control the pain and a lot of antibiotics because there was such a big open wound in the back of my leg.  When I did become alert I saw that my legs were really bandaged up and there were big rods, metal external fixture, screwed into my legs so I couldn’t move them.  There was also a drainage bag hanging on the side of my leg…that was really gross and hurt really bad when they took it out.  That was when I realized that my left knee had been crushed so bad that it would have to be reconstructed and my right leg needed a rod implanted to support the break in my lower leg.

Skin graph

skin graphI am also missing a good chunk of flesh and skin behind my left knee.  Mom tells me that for a long time they didn’t know if my leg was going to be ok.  If I got an infection because of such a big open wound or if the blood supply were to get worse I would lose my leg.  Mom says that not knowing was the worst of all.  I was in the hospital for almost a month. The nurses and doctors were ok but Mari and I should have been out with friends not cooped up in a hospital having operation after operation.

Destroyed by the impact

Crushed LegI don’t remember all the surgeries that I had nor in what order.  I had to have 12 screws and a plate inserted into my left knee joint to recreate the knee that has been destroyed by the impact.   Dr. Ly my orthopedic surgeon said that he had never seen an injury like mine before so fixing me was a challenge. He wasn’t sure if I would ever be able to walk with it. Thank goodness that he was a great Dr. and whatever he did saved my leg.  They also had to implant a rod into my right leg to support the bone that had been shattered. 
This was only the start.  After they were satisfied with the orthopedic surgeries and up to now I had no infection I had to have a muscle transplant to fill in the open wound behind the knee.  Dr. Fletcher is the plastic surgeon that removed half of my calf muscle and transplanted it behind my left knee. He then did the skin transplant to cover the transplanted muscle. This finished most the reconstruction of my legs but I was not prepared for the months of therapy that were to follow.
Normal things that I had done all my life I couldn’t do.  Everything I did needed help.  I didn’t like feeling like a baby but my legs couldn’t bend so I couldn’t do lots for myself.  One of the therapists in the hospital was Joyce.  She was a stern lady in a nice way.  She made me try.  Even when it was painful and hard she still made me try.  She never let me give up.
Dan in Hospital visited by Jim and KrysI left the hospital on Sept. 19th.  Mari would have to stay another month because she was not healing very well.  My family took care of me for many months after that.  Mom took time off of work because I could not be alone.  She also slept on the couch outside of my room so that if I needed anything during the night she was there.  Everyday started with a shot of blood thinner so that I would not get a blood clot and the redressing of my legs. Then twice a week we went to therapy.  My therapist now was Rhonda.  She was demanding but a real nice lady too.

It has been two years since the accident.  Some things are not very clear but some are all to clear.  My left leg is disfigured and I will never be able to use it like I did before.  For a long time I wore a gauze bandage on my leg so no one would see.  Now I know that I will always have that big scar on my leg.  I have no feeling in my left leg below the knee.  The Dr. thinks that the nerves were damaged and the feelings will never come back.  My left leg is about an inch shorter now. This is causing me to limp and the Dr.’s say that this will hurt my hips and back when I get older. My right hip pops now.  For sure my knee will have to be replaced before I get really old.  My range on motion is poor.  I cannot straighten it all the way and cannot bend it very well. I look pretty funny trying to get down on my knees.  Forget about crawling. Even though I try to get involved in sports my legs limit me and there are also times that I am afraid to do something because I might ruin my knee. 
Some days are better than others but I try and do whatever I want.  If I do too much I know that my legs will hurt and I’ll be sorry.  My legs get tired faster and ache a lot in the mornings and when I go to bed. 
When I was little and did something wrong and told my mom “I didn’t mean it” Like breaking a window with a baseball. I still got punished. I hope that the police didn’t mean to cripple me or have Mari lose her leg but because of their stupid actions they still did.  They should be held accountable for what they did to us just like everyone else when they do something bad. 
The criminal has gone to jail.  That is where he should have gone a long time ago.  The Officers that were involved in the police chase that crippled us just went on like nothing has happened.  I wonder what they thought when they saw us laying there and Mari’s leg just hanging there and all that blood?  Maybe they didn’t even care. The judge?  We were just two names on a piece of paper to him and because he works with the police every day our problems were just thrown out with the trash.  So far NO ONE from the police department has even admitted that they were even partly responsible. 


We were hurt and for the rest of our lives we will pay for the bad actions of the Police.


    I don’t want you to feel sorry for me.  I want you to get MAD with me.  The judge told us that it’s too bad that we were hurt.  The police were doing their job.  WOW!  Since when is part of their job hurting someone like Mari and I?  Destroying our lives?  Hurting all the people that love us. 
When you hear a siren or see a speeding police car LOOK OUT.  No matter what they do and who they hurt they have IMMUNITY?  The next person hurt or killed could be someone that you love.
Our lawyer is filing an appeal with the courts.  We could use your help.  Spread the word for us.

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