Life Stories

Former Chicago officer paralyzed in the line of duty honored decades later

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CHICAGO — A special police roll call in Mount Greenwood Monday honored a brother in blue who returned to Chicago for the first time since he was injured in the line of duty decades ago.

Jim Crowley was just 22 years old and fresh out of the academy when his squad car was hit by a drunk driver near 15th Street and Ashland Avenue on September 4, 1987.

Now 54, Crowley returned to Chicago to see some of these friends and family for the first time in nearly 20 years. Among them, fellow former Chicago Officer and childhood friend Gerry Cushing.

“It’s like seeing a long lost brother,” Cushing said. “And he was a great policeman while he was out there. It was a tragedy what happened to him.”

Crowley was paralyzed in the crash, and has traumatic brain injuries. Another officer he was riding with was killed.

His little sister Beth Carter, his champion for more than 30 years, orchestrated a Christmas trip home this week. She rented an RV and drove him to Chicago from a rehab facility in Texas.

For years, the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation has visited the homes of families of fallen and injured officers. But Monday is the first time they’ve helped in a homecoming celebration, a testament to standing by those who serve.

“We want to show him we don’t forget,” said Dawn Dolan, Chicago Police Memorial Foundation.

The homecoming also gave a man who lost so much in service to the city a small but precious gift in return: a true feeling of the holiday spirit from family and lifelong friends.

“He’s very witty very funny guy he’s never lost that,” Cushing said. “Just to be able to see my buddy and talk with him and see how he’s doing and wish them a merry Christmas.”