PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It was a hero’s welcome Thursday night for a local police chief who was seriously injured by fireworks last week.
Leechburg Police Chief Michael Diebold was released from UPMC Mercy Hospital late Thursday, 12 days after he lost a hand and part of his arm in a June 24th fireworks accident during a Leechburg Firefighters carnival.
“I didn’t think I was going to make it out the ambulance the night of the fireworks explosion, because I felt the blood loss, and I could feel my body wanting to shut down,” Diebold told reporters as he left the hospital.
Diebold was driven back home in a Leechburg Police car, and along the way, other emergency vehicles joined the escort, including State Police cars, and Leechburg firetrucks.
At Leechburg’s Christ the King Church, Diebold was warmly greeted with cheers and applause.
Inside the church hall, there was a benefit spaghetti supper being given in his honor, and so many people showed up, at one point, they temporarily ran out of food, before another local church and food store came to the rescue.
Clearly moved by the large turnout, an emotional Diebold said he was “shocked and touched” by the large turnout.
Diebold said it may be a month or so, before the healing process is complete, and then he’ll be meeting with doctors to search for the right prosthetic arm.
“So I can fully go back to be again be a fully functional police officer,” he said.