Two weeks after a head-on crash with a wrong-way driver left him critically injured, the family of Fairfax County police Officer Long Dinh Jr. says the 28-year-old is making progress. News4 Northern Virginia Bureau reporter David Culver has the story.
Two weeks after a head-on crash with a wrong-way driver left him critically injured, the family of Fairfax County police Officer Long Dinh Jr. says the 28-year-old is making progress.
Dinh's father, Long Dinh Sr., candidly remarked that he had dreams his son would one day go to law school, not go into law enforcement.
"I wanted him to become a lawyer," Dinh Sr. said. "He didn't want to. After he graduated from George Mason (University) with (a degree in) criminal justice, he just wanted to be a police officer."
And for the past five years that's want Dinh Jr. has done.
Dinh Sr. is incredibly proud of his police officer son, but he's even more thankful he's alive.
"This is a miracle,” he said. “Nobody can believe he (could) survive at that moment, at the time," Dinh said.
He calls it a miracle because of what happened on Feb. 28. Blue lights illuminated the stretch of Little River Turnpike near I-495. Just after midnight, 40-year-old Cicero Limberea drove into oncoming traffic, police said. He ended up smashing into Officer Dinh's cruiser.
It took an hour to cut the officer free from his car. He spent three days in a coma, according to his father. When he finally came out, Dinh Sr. was by his son's side.
"He looked into my eyes, and he cried. Of course, I cried with him," Dinh Sr. recalled.
But recovery is not easy. There are physical and financial hurdles for the T.C. Williams High School graduate. That's where the Fraternal Order of Police is helping.
"Once we heard about the incident, we opened up an account through Paypal, on the fairfaxlodge77.com website," said Mike Scanlon, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 77.
So far they've raised just less than $10,000, but they're hoping for more.
"We're going to assist him with clothing, or with food, if he needs any extra care or if they need modifications to his house," Scanlon explained.
Dinh Sr. is grateful for the generosity but said it's more than just money, it's about the community coming together.
"Fundraising is a good thing," Dinh said. "But also the spirit, also to bring the community tight together, that is what this is about."
The Fraternal Order of Police is planning several community events to raise money for Officer Dinh. NBCWashington.com will have more information about those events when it becomes available.