Alterations in life are inevitable following catastrophic injuries. Police officers are well aware of these issues as they frequently experience life changing events that begin on the street, continue in an emergency room, and seem to know no end in recovery and rehab.

Alterations in life

There was a young boy who excelled in all things athletic and academic. He starred in football, skating, and gymnastics. But it was academic excellence that led to family discussions about attending Yale.

These deliberations came to a close once the young man suffered injuries that would change his future. While ambiguity surrounds the tale, several things are known.

The athletic and academic over-achiever was smashed in the face with a bat of sorts. False teeth became necessary followed by serious digestive complications, heart palpitations, and spells of depression. Excruciating pain to his countenance and jaw became a way of life for the next three years. The prolonged recovery ended any aspirations of attending Yale University. Yet it led to daily reading as never before, and clearly altered the course of his life.

Man appropriately named Crook

Oliver Crook Haugh was the perpetrator who inflicted the pain. It was just the beginning of his criminality. Many years later, in 1906, he was executed for murdering his parents and brother. Yes, this is a play on words. A “crook” by name and practice modified the life of Wilbur Wright, who, along with his brother Orville, went on to invent the first successful flying machine. To say the Wright brothers changed the course of history is an understatement.

Overcoming challenges

We all experience life-altering influences, and many are painful. When going through these events, we have a choice to make. We can accept defeat or try to overcome the challenges.

Several years into the experiments, the Wright Brothers became increasingly confident in their aeronautic progress. Taking passengers into the air had become the next logical step. While demonstrating flight for the War Department, Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge was chosen to fly with Orville.


First casualty of flight

During the flight they had a mechanical problem with the propeller and one of the struts. The plane came crashing to the ground. Orville Wright was severely injured with a fractured leg and hip, and four broken ribs. But Lieutenant Selfridge did not survive. He was the first casualty of flight in America.

Wilbur and Orville’s father was a minister. Bishop Wright sent a heartfelt letter to his convalescing son, who was understandably saddened and discouraged. “We learn much by tribulation, and by adversity our hearts are made better,” he wrote with wisdom and understanding.

The Spirit behind Badge 145 & Justice Revealed

I shared many of my painful experiences in The Spirit behind Badge 145 hoping to demonstrate God’s extraordinary nature. Justice Revealed became my second book as I connected illustrations from a career in law enforcement to biblical principles. It is through God’s sovereignty that I deal with pain so that I may know his peace. My hope is the same for others!

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

Whenever I compile a news story involving an officer that has been severely injured in the line of duty, I like to send one of my books as a get well card.

I know the recovery process can be tedious, and oftentimes the officer will experience dramatic alterations in life.

Yet, reading dramatically changed the life of Wilbur Wright as he recovered from a severe injury, and I believe it can have the same affect on all of us. I know it has on mine!

While my injuries were not catastrophic, my body has seen the surgeon’s table on 18 occasions, so I am intimately familiar with the recovery process.

Personal invitation to others experiencing alterations in life

You can read more about my books at This is not a solicitation to buy a book, but an offer to receive a complimentary copy.

If you know a police officer recovering from a severe job-related injury, and believe he or she would like a copy of either book, email the request to me: [email protected].

Please include your name, the name of the injured officer, their agency, mailing address, and brief details leading to the injury. I will ship a book at no cost to you.

– Jim McNeff, editor-in-chief, Law Enforcement Today

Source: David McCullough, The Wright Brothers, (Simon and Schuster, 2015).