October 13, 2023
A Washington State Patrol trooper expects to return to full duty about a year after a shooting nearly cost him his life.
The Washington State Patrol released a 7-minute video interview with Trooper Dean Atkinson, 29, speaking about what the last year of recovery has been like.
Atkinson had been shot in the face, lost part of two fingers and was left critically injured after a confrontation at a Walla Walla intersection in September 2022.
He had his final surgery to repair the damage to mouth and cheek in March, he said in the video. The surgery went better than even the doctors expected, he said.
“I went for a follow-up visit and they left the room and they were like high-fiving and all the doctors were cheering and congratulating themselves,” he said. “They came back in and I was like, ‘I thought you told me that this was simple.’ They were kind of like, ‘No. It’s actually one of the hardest places we can do a plastic surgery because of all of your nerves.’”
Since getting the final surgery, Atkinson has been able to return to two of his favorite past times, skiing and golf, and was married on July 22.
While people initially questioned whether the wedding would be postponed, he said they were committed to the date.
“My one goal is, ‘I’m still here. Why wouldn’t we do the wedding?’” he said in the video. “It was the greatest day of my life on many levels.”
He started working again in a light duty capacity at the state patrol in June, he said. He was assigned to help the criminal investigation division, along with doing the training he needs to return to patrol duty.
“The last few months working alongside of them was pretty special and I don’t think a lot of guys get that in-depth opportunity,” he said.
Atkinson is hoping to return to full duty in October, and he will spend some time with a field training officer before fully returning to patrol. He spent some time serving with the National Guard recently as well.
“I have been urged to take it slow even though I’m very anxious to get back into the car,” he said.
use the link below to watch full interview.