The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation recognizes Matthew Koman as its March 2011 Officer of the Month.
I began my career with the Chicago Police Department in 1996. One short year later, on January 7, 1997, my partner Andre and I were almost killed in an automobile accident. We were on our way to a “shots fired” call at the LeClaire Courts public housing development at approximately 2300 hrs. We were about a block or so behind the squad that had gotten the call heading northbound on Cicero Avenue with lights and siren activated on the inside lane. Without warning, the vehicle that was in front of us to the right pulled into our lane and then braked. This forced Andre to veer left onto the raised curb of the median divider. Before he could pull back onto the roadway, our car slammed into the concrete planter (most Chicagoans know the planters I’m referring to).
Major accidents stated that we slammed into the planter going about 60 mph and that was with brakes applied. Upon impact, our squad burst into flames in the engine block. I have limited recollection of the accident as I was in a state of shock and unable to move. Thank goodness we had our safety belts on; otherwise we would have been ejected from the patrol car. As both of us sat there trapped in the vehicle, six people came to our aid. They were able to open Andre’s door, cut his belt and pull him out to safety. At this point the flames were making their way into the vehicle and I had to be pulled out through the passenger window. By the time the fire department arrived on scene our vehicle was completely engulfed in flames. If it were not for the brave people who rescued us, Andre and I would not be here today. I suffered several broken bones to both my right hand and left leg. My left leg’s tibia bone had multiple fractures and worse; my left heel was crushed from the impact. It took two operations for the doctors to put my foot back together and I am now on limited duty due to the injuries. The foot is not perfect as I’m required to wear orthotics, but I’m able to walk with a limp. Due to the accident, Andre is paralyzed from the waist down and is now on disability.