One Year Later: The remarkable recovery of Springfield Police Department Officer Mark Priebe
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - It was the day that forever changed Springfield Police Officer Mark Priebe’s life.
On June 9 2020, investigators say a man named Jon Routh used his SUV as a weapon outside police headquarters, ramming into officer Priebe. It left the 21-year police veteran paralyzed.
He spent months in a Colorado hospital for rehabilitation. In the fall of 2020, he returned home to a warm welcome from family, friends and law enforcement. It’s a much different home. The Priebe home has a lot of new additions.
“Put in a roll-in shower, which is beautiful. Plenty of cabinets for storage,” said Officer Priebe.
A new bathroom, floors and wider doors. Thanks to donations, there’s a lift in the garage. Officer Priebe has another new set of wheels. It’s a van he can drive. There are hand controls for gas and the break.
“I think riding a motorcycle at work helped with hand controls a lot,” he said.
“People are always shocked when I say he drives. He takes himself to his appointments. He goes and meets friends for lunch. Gets groceries. Picks up our order,” said his wife, Heather Priebe.
Officer Priebe faces a new problem, Lymphedema. It’s built up fluid.
“I can’t feel my legs, but the swelling, I can feel the pressure,” said Officer Priebe.
A machine, wraps and compression socks are routine.
“There’s days where it’s like, man what in the world? I just realize this is the rest of my life. I got to do this differently the rest of my life,” he said.
Reality is raw and sometimes unbelievable.
“I keep waiting for that day that he’s going to get up and go. He is going, but he’s not going,” Heather Priebe said.
Just days before it happened, Officer Priebe was standing as he worked a demonstration following the death of George Floyd.
“To be honest with you, I was in a bad place before this happened. There was protest going on in Springfield. Law enforcement was going through a lot,” he said.
“That’s where I’ve always struggled with this whole thing. He never set out to kill a cop. He set out to run over a cop. He did what he set out to do,” Heather Priebe said.
Jon Routh remains behind bars. He was determined incompetent for trial. A follow up mental evaluation was ordered and he will be in court again next month.
“I think the court’s idea of competent, and my idea and Heather’s idea of competence is probably a little different which is frustrating. I want him to see the face he saw the day he ran over me,” said Officer Priebe.
“I’m not to the point of forgiveness yet, but he’s still a person,” Heather said.
“I haven’t really thought about that. We’ve been taught and raised we should forgive people. That’s easier said than done. I think that is probably answered after we see where things go with him,” said Officer Priebe.
Officer Priebe says he’s not done serving others.
“This has literally given me a second chance to a better dad, husband and to still be here and continue to make a difference,” he said.
Officer Priebe is employed with SPD on workmen’s compensation. But, he says the next chapter is finding a new job.
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