When Cranberry Township police officer Cpl. Dan Hahn arrived at the HealthSouth Harmarville Rehabilitation Hospital in March, it took at least two physical therapists just to maneuver his 6-foot-4 frame into the sitting position.
"I was in so much pain I couldn't even talk," Hahn recalled.
What a difference a few months makes.
After sustaining a broken back, a spinal cord injury, injuries to his shoulder, sternum, and multiple other fractures, Hahn has gone from being placed in a medically induced coma to taking steps with a walker and climbing the stairs.
He's not finished yet.
The longtime police officer heads home Saturday after months of rehabilitation therapy at the facility in Harmar Township. He will continue therapy as an outpatient and, if all goes according to plan, Cranberry residents will again see him dressed in a police uniform.
"I'm going back to work," he said. "My goal is to get better."
Hahn was seriously injured in February when he fell more than 20 feet from a highway overpass following a high-speed car chase that began in Sewickley Hills and ended on Interstate 79 in Jackson Township. The driver of the car jumped from an overpass in an effort to elude police, and Hahn followed. The driver died from his injuries the next day. Hahn was flown by medical helicopter to Allegheny General Hospital, where he spent three weeks in a coma.
In March, he arrived at the rehab facility barely able to move his body. Since then, he has made steady progress.
"His progress has been amazing," said his physical therapist, Beth Stebbins. "It's much quicker than we ever could have anticipated."
Hahn spends about four hours a day in physical therapy. About five weeks ago, with help from Stebbins, he took his first steps.
“When I first started I was wobbly, and I had a big brace on,” he said.
He credited the staff and the other patients for inspiring him to push harder -- and get better.
“The staff has been incredible,” he said. “All of us patients cheer each other on.”
A married father of adult children, Hahn said he is deeply touched by the outpouring of support he has received from the community since his injury. There have been numerous fundraisers around the area – including a spaghetti dinner sponsored by the Cranberry Township Police Association – to benefit him and his family. He also has received countless cards from well-wishers. Nearly every day, at least one person has visited him at the facility.
It has made him proud to be a part of the Cranberry community, he said.
“I know my career has made a difference now,” he said. “That’s a very, very good feeling.”