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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A local officer shot in the line of duty says he’s out of work and struggling to make ends meet, but the township says he’s partly to blame.
“It was just a night that completely and utterly changed my life.”
“It was fast. I was fighting for my life. It was raining. Bullets flying past my head. My drink was exploding in my eyes, I could smell gunfire. I could smell it,” Loskoch said.
In the gunfight, Loskoch takes a bullet to the chest — saved only by his Kevlar vest. But, his trauma doesn’t end there. Despite being shot in the line of duty and hailed for his heroism – two years later, Loskoch is no longer a cop.
He finds himself nearly broke, without medical care and suffering from post-traumatic stress.
“I was a police officer. Did my job every day, was highly decorated, treated people right. I just feel I was given the short end of the stick,” he said.
After the shooting, Loskoch hurried back to the job he loved and projected an image of strength. But, all the while, he lived in his head replaying the gunfight over and over.
“I revisit it. What could I have done differently? What could I have done differently?” he said.
While his stress went untreated, there came another constant reminder — the shots that rang out that night continued to ring in his ears in a condition called tinnitus. A doctor recommended he take a few months off for the noise to clear, but after fitting him with state of the art hearing aids the same doctor ruled that he be retired from the force over Loskoch’s objections.
In March, he reluctantly signed an agreement for a disability pension and 10 years of medical coverage.
But, he’s now living on half of his former pay and due to a continuing wrangle with the township, he and his kids still don’t have health insurance. He can’t pay his bills.
“My life’s crumbling a little bit. Every day’s a battle,” he aid.
What’s more is next month, his alleged assailant Earl Hollins goes to trial and the fact that Loskoch will need to testify only heightens his anxiety. Still, he feels that if he can get the proper treatment for his PTSD and have his hearing cleared, he could someday return to being a police officer
“I wish I was back with my buddies working beats and doing the job I love serving the community,” he said.
But, all of that seems unlikely – at least in Harmony. KDKA-TV’s Andy Sheehan tried contacting both the chief of police and the council president and both declined comment. Solicitor Richard Start did the same – except to say this: “We did everything within our power to assist him and attempted to serve any need he made us aware of. Everyone feels a great deal of compassion for former Officer Loskoch and that compassion is expressed in our efforts to help him.”
But, it’s clear that those efforts have fallen short and that two years after he was shot in the line of duty, former Officer Loskach finds his life in tatters.
During the Harmony Township commissioners meeting Wednesday night several people spoke out about Loskoch.
One of those was Cara Niderstros.
“He plays this night over and over in his head and the main thing he says is I could’ve went home for a break or I didn’t have to take that shift I could’ve made a left instead of a right he blames himself for this shooting,” said Loskoch’s fiancé Cara Niderstros.
Loskcoch told KDKA prior to this meeting that he reluctantly signed an agreement for a disability pension and 10 years medical coverage.
He suffers from tinnitus and now wears hearing aids since the shooting. His doctor ruled he should retire from the force.
Loskoch is now living on half of his former pay and does not have health insurance due to an ongoing fight with the township.
“He willingly knowingly signed an agreement of separation with the township. Those terms were explained to him I’m sure at length by his attorney and by the staff here at the township,” said Harmony Township Solicitor Richard Start.
Township Solicitor Richard Start said Loskoch had the opportunity to enroll in a health plan but didn’t turn his paperwork in.
“Have some compassion. Sure he signed his rights away but if not thinking mentally correct have compassion. Help pay until open enrollment to help him out,” said Harmony Township resident William Gandjos.
But some feel Loskoch needs to take responsibility for his own actions.
“If you’re given paper work within 30 days you need to bring it back,” said Harmony Township resident Vicki Capone.
Township officials said Loskoch has to wait to sign up for health insurance when open enrollment starts on November 1.