Update on Tpr Baker recovery

The State Troopers PBA is happy to share the news that Trooper Donald Baker Jr. continues to progress in his recovery at Hamot Medical Center in Erie, Pa. Trooper Baker’s wife, Tracy, spoke with a reporter from the Times Union newspaper of Albany. She said her husband is undergoing physical therapy, is in good spirits and is expected to return to the Capital Region by the end of the month. The Bakers are from Clifton Park.

The PBA continues to send its support to the Baker family during Trooper Baker’s recovery.

The article from the Times Union is shown below.

By DENNIS YUSKO, Staff writer
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First published: Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Tracy Baker remembers the knock on her Clifton Park door in late August. It was about 8 p.m. and she was settling in to watch television with her dog, a boxer named Jeter. She and her husband, State Trooper Don Baker Jr., are big fans of the New York Yankees.

She knew the knock couldn’t be her husband. He was hundreds of miles away trying to capture Ralph "Bucky" Phillips, a prison escapee suspected of shooting a state trooper.

As she looked out the door, she saw two of Don’s friends, a State Police investigator and a captain. They looked at her.

She said, "Don’t tell me."

One replied, "He’s not dead, but he’s shot."

The news was "100 percent worse" than she had imagined. "It has been the worst fear come true. Your life changes in a split second. You can’t focus on anything but your husband," she said by telephone from Erie, Pa.

In one of her first interviews since her husband was critically wounded and another state trooper from Saratoga County was killed, Tracy Baker said Tuesday that her husband has been taken out of the intensive care unit at Hamot Medical Center in Erie and is making steady progress toward what is hoped will be a near-full recovery.

"He’s talking, doing physical therapy. He needs more surgeries, but the doctors are very pleased with his progress," she said.

Don Baker, 38, remains in serious but stable condition. He is expected to return to the Capital Region by the end of the month, she said. He’s determined to get back to work and believes he was left alive for a purpose, she said.

"He’s amazing. He’s making the best of the worst possible situation," said Tracy Baker, 39, who was born in Troy and married Don Baker 15 years ago. They do not have children.

Police say Phillips ambushed Don Baker and Trooper Joseph Longobardo of Greenfield on Aug. 31 while they were in woods near the Chautauqua County home of a former girlfriend of Phillips. The troopers were with the State Police Mobile Response Unit.

Longobardo was shot in the leg and died Sept. 3. Don Baker was hit in the side of his back by a bullet that went through his abdomen, his wife said. For weeks, he remained in a medically induced coma while undergoing multiple surgeries.

Tracy Baker did not want to comment on charges leveled by the New York State Troopers Police Benevolent Association that the five-month State Police manhunt for Phillips "was poorly planned, poorly organized, poorly led and poorly executed."

"The only blame I have is on the person who shot Joe and my husband," she said.

The State Police flew Tracy and Don Baker’s parents to his hospital bed the evening of the shootings. At least 300 people, including many police from New York and Pennsylvania, have since visited, she said.

She has been in Erie with her husband since Aug. 31, with the exception of one overnight trip home for clothes.

He’s now talking, doing physical therapy and cracking jokes. The couple can’t wait to come back to the Capital Region.

"I have heard all the support I have gotten at home, and I want to thank everyone and tell them how appreciative we are," Tracy Baker said.