‘I’m so lucky’: Riverhead cop, nearly killed in accident on duty last year, returns to work happy, grateful man
Riverhead Police Officer Rob Sproston is back – strong, lusty and just about the happiest guy ever. He knows he is a living, breathing, walking and speaking miracle.
The Calverton resident nearly died – within inches – on March 31 in an accident while on duty while answering a call. The crash left Sproston impaled by a metal pole, which entered the right side of his face and exited from the left. His jaw was destroyed. He had no airways and was sucking blood. He was looking for air and struggling to survive.
The young officer remembers nothing and counts it among his many blessings. He heard about what happened from other cops and first responders.
âSomehow a trauma doctor has been there,â Sproston said. âA trauma doctor right there. Can you imagine He just came out of nowhere. It just doesn’t happen.
An emergency technician arrived almost at the same time as the trauma doctor, Sproston’s father Bill said. âHe managed to find a respiratory path and keep him alive. It was about 15 seconds from having an emergency tracheostomy at the scene, âhe said.
“This kid had angels on him that day.”
Bill Sproston, like his son, is a volunteer firefighter from Riverhead. He was in a fire engine that responded to the crash that afternoon, unaware that his only son was the driver of the mutilated vehicle.
âThey didn’t want me to go near him,â Bill said. âThey said to me, ‘You don’t want to see this.’ He could tell from the scene that it was bad. The ground was shaking under him and he was shaking, he recalls. When he lets his mind come back to this day, Bill says, his whole body hurts. âIt’s like PTSD,â he said.
The Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps transported Sproston to Peconic Bay Medical Center. He was then airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital, where he underwent 12 hours of surgery – “just to get me back on my feet,” he said. âThe doctors said, ‘As long as his body allows us to work, we will continue.’ And if I closed, they would stop. But luckily I succeeded. ”
âI have so much metal here,â Sproston said, touching his cheek. “It’s incredible.” It describes what surgeons did to rebuild a functioning jawbone. âIt’s not in any manual, I don’t think so. They come to understand. And I tell you what, my face, other than not having a symmetrical smile, I would never know. I feel great. âHe had subsequent surgeries after the initial marathon surgery, and will have a few more, to repair the muscle damage on the left side of his face and put a smile back on his face.
âI almost feel like myself again. It’s just amazing, âhe said. âItâs so amazing. I cannot thank enough the doctors who put me back together, âhe said.
Oral and Facial Surgeon Dr Michael Proothi ââand Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon Dr Alexander Dagum reconstructed Sproston’s jaw and face. Dr. Jaqueline Abraham did the many dental work he needed. âI cannot thank them enough,â he said.
Sproston said he really doesn’t remember much of his time at Stony Brook, where he was kept in a medically induced coma for much of his recovery. He was transferred to Saint-Charles for rehabilitation and it is there that he keeps his first post-accident memory.
He discovered that he also had to work to regain the memory of his life before the accident. In addition to having to “relearn to walk”, he had to reconnect with his past. But he finds that his memory comes back just by talking to people about his past.
Sproston suffered a brain injury in the crash, his father said, but it was minor and he’s recovering well, his father said.
He was released from St. Charles on May 15. Sproston has no trouble remembering the welcome he received from the community that day, as police, firefighters, local residents and city officials – and even three military planes from the 106th Rescue Wing – gave him an unforgettable welcome.
His rehabilitation continued at home, both with specialists from Saint-Charles and with his father, whom he calls his best friend. Bill Sproston rarely left his son’s bedside and made it his mission to work with him to strengthen his strength and help him regain his memory.
“It’s been quite a trip the last 15 months,” said Elder Sproston.
âThe kid is a go-getter and he strives to be the best. It’s his attitude. He does everything with everything, âhe said. âWords cannot describe how happy I am to have him in my life. He’s back as Rob.
Sproston, who turned 29 in March, has just returned to work. He’s on light duty, “for now,” he said, running the security post at Riverhead Town Hall. He can’t wait to get back on patrol. He joined the force in 2017 and loves his job.
A Marine Corps reservist, Sproston returned to service at his base this weekend, where he was surprised with a promotion to the rank of sergeant.
He’s back to fire alarms for RFD and he goes to the gym every day with a buddy. âIt’s therapy,â he says.
The support he received from his fellow police officers, fellow firefighters and friends was incredible, he said.
When he thinks about what happened to him, how far he’s come, he’s overwhelmed with gratitude, Sproston said. âI have always been a very grateful person,â said Sproston. âNow it’s so much more magnified. I’m so lucky.
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