Fairfax County Police Officer Long Dinh Jr. had to be cut from the twisted remnants of his police car two months ago, after another car drove head on into his vehicle.
He was hospitalized with serious injuries and unable to talk for weeks. As soon as could speak, he made one request: He asked for a new cruiser.
The remark made the other cops laugh, Officer Courtney Young said, and gave them hope that he’s on the road to recovery.
To help the 27-year-old along that path, his friends, family and fellow officers are hosting a fundraiser Sunday to raise money for Officer Dinh’s return home.
“He had a number of broken bones in his legs,” Officer Young said. “We have to prepare his parents’ house to be wheelchair accessible, so it’s safer to get around.”
Police said the man’s car barely missed striking several other vehicles before hitting Officer Dinh, who was responding to reports of an erratic driver.
“He’s in pretty good spirits. All the time he’s making us laugh,” Officer Young said. “It’s really neat to watch him get better. His jaw was wired shut, and I didn’t realize the wires had been taken out. It was so amazing to hear his voice.”
The fundraiser is scheduled from 12 p.m.-7 p.m. at the Hard Times Cafe in Fairfax. Guests can try their luck in a raffle or bid on items, such as a signed Washington Redskins helmet from Robert Griffin III or a private swim lesson with a local Olympic swimmer, during the silent auction.
T-shirts bearing the likeness of Robocop will also be on sale.
“We started calling him Robocop because he has a lot of metal in him now,” Officer Young said, referencing the movie about a fatally injured cop transformed into a crime-fighting machine. “He’s part man, part machine, all cop.”
Officer Young said a 5K race was held two weeks ago to help raise money. So far about $21,000 has been collected.
She credited the influx of support to people being touched by Mr. Dinh’s injury — which happened around the same time that a Virginia State Trooper was shot and killed during a traffic stop and an Alexandria police officer was shot in the head by a cab driver.
“It really struck people that there’s a lot of stuff going on, and the police are in harm’s way,” she said.