We all breathed a sigh of relief on Thursday, Nov. 9 when Trooper Donald Baker Jr. was flown to Albany Medical Center Hospital to continue his road to recovery closer to home. Trooper Baker was shot on Aug. 31 and had been hospitalized in Erie, Pa. until his return to Albany. Although Trooper Baker continues his recovery and rehabilitation, the State Troopers PBA is happy he was well enough to be transported to the Capital Region.
Trooper Baker and Trooper Joseph Longobardo were shot during a manhunt for escaped convict and suspected Trooper shooter Ralph Phillips. Phillips is also suspected of shooting Troopers Baker and Longobardo. Trooper Longobardo died from his injuries three days after being shot, and Trooper Baker has been hospitalized since being shot.
Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with both families. We support Trooper Baker in his recovery and wish him well.
On Thursday, the following statement was released from Trooper Baker by the State Police:
"I would first like to thank all the personnel of Hamot Medical Center in Erie, Pa., especially the trauma doctors and the ICU nurses who provided me with exceptional medical care that gave me a second chance at life. Your professionalism, skills and expertise are second to none and I will never forget all you have done for me and my family.
"To the FBI, City of Erie Police Department, surrounding police agencies and the citizens of Pennsylvania: Your prayers and support are what helped my family and I get through these past ten weeks and I thank you very much. I especially want to thank the Pennsylvania State Police, a truly professional organization who treated me like one of their own. Thank you to the individuals who make up the Pennsylvania State Police Member Assistance Program for being there for my family during this time. Your support and kindness will never be forgotten. I would also like to thank the residents of Chautauqua County for their continued support during my recovery.
"To the New York State Police: I am honored to be a part of such an elite organization. I would like to thank the Troopers from Troop A who sat by my side each night when my condition was critical and uncertain. Thank you to all the active and retired New York State Troopers and their families who went out of their way to provide assistance to me and my family. A special thanks to all the New York State Police Employee Assistance Program personnel who provided us with guidance, assistance, friendship, and insured that my family and I were well cared for during this time.
"To my fellow MRT members: words alone cannot express the gratitude that I feel towards you. I am extremely proud to be associated with such high caliber individuals and I will never forget what you all have done for me and my family. Thank You!
"Although I have spent the last couple of months away from home, my recovery process has been made easier because of the tremendous support and prayers I have received from everyone in my hometown of Clifton Park and the surrounding Albany, NY, area. I can assure you that your support and prayers were heard loud and clear and were much appreciated. Thank you all for everything you have done for my family and me."