A life-changing incident

Courtesy/Daniel Sherrow Daniel Sherrow was an officer with the Goshen County Sheriff's Department when he was injured in the line of duty Aug. 9, 2020. Sherrow has undergone multiple surgeries since the incident.

TORRINGTON – It was a hot day in August of 2020 when Goshen County Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel Sherrow reported for duty and was sent to Banner Health in Torrington to overwatch an inmate who was in custody at the hospital.

Sherrow arrived at the hospital at 7 a.m. during shift change. He was posted on the individual all day and at around 2 p.m., the doctor came up to Sherrow and asked him to remove the shackles from the inmate so the doctor could examine the inmate and determine if he was healthy enough to be released from the Hospital.

“The doctor in charge says, ‘hey we want to kick this guy out of here, but we need to get him up and move him’,” Sherrow said. “‘I need to see how he walks.’ I said, ‘well what do you need from me?’ He says, ‘well I need you to remove the leg shackles.’ That’s not a common practice for us, but I’m not medical and that is not in my expertise, so I follow the rules.”

Sherrow then removed the leg shackles from the inmate and had him handcuffed in front so he wouldn’t fall on his face. There was also a nurse standing behind the inmate with a wheelchair in case he lost balance and fell over.

The doctor then had Sherrow move the inmate from the E.R. to the rooms and had him walk the loop around the facility and back toward the Maternity Ward.

The inmate leaned against the wall and the nurse went to grab him to place him in the wheelchair. Sherrow was standing behind the inmate and went to pull him back into the wheelchair, but the inmate escaped his grasp, shoved the nurse down and bolted out the door of the maternity ward.

At that point the chase was on.

 

The Chase

 

After the inmate shoved the nurse down and bolted through the doors of the Maternity Ward, Sherrow had to jump over the nurse and begin to chase after the inmate.

Sherrow immediately reached for his radio and relayed to the dispatcher that he was in a foot pursuit after an inmate who had escaped custody. The radios weren’t working well inside the hospital and the dispatcher had trouble hearing what Sherrow was saying.

“As I hit the doors of the Maternity Ward, I thought they were going to give me more resistance,” Sherrow said. “Normally those doors are supposed to be secure, I’ve had three children up there and I know those doors normally lock, but they weren’t.”

When Sherrow made it through the Maternity Ward doors with no resistance, he continued to chase the inmate through the trees outside the hospital and was by the hedges on the northwest corner of the clinic.

The inmate ran through the row of hedges and by the time Sherrow caught up to him, he knew the inmate was going to cut through the trees, so Sherrow attempted to cut him off. The inmate noticed what Sherrow was attempting to do, and he doubled back.

After doubling back, the inmate ran through the row of hedges and Sherrow pulled out his taser in an attempt to stop the inmate, but unfortunately was never in a position to get a clean shot.

With his taser in hand, Sherrow decided to go through the same trees, instead of going 40 feet around to the other side. He knew if he didn’t go through the trees, he would lose track of the inmate.

“In the process of going through the trees, I hit the trunk of the tree with the whole right side of my body,” Sherrow said. “I blew the palm of my hand out because I had my taser in my hand. I tore my uniform and kind of bounced off it and laid the tree over. It was an eight-foot cypress, so I hit it pretty hard and continued through.”

Sherrow continued the chase and didn’t think anything of it. He knew his primary duty as a Deputy Sheriff was to ensure the safety of the community.

As Sherrow continued to chase the inmate through backyards in the community, Sherrow continued to give out his location to the dispatchers.

He finally got him in a backyard and knew where the inmate was. His backup finally arrived, which included two road deputies and several Torrington police officers, including Chief of Police Matt Johnson.

When Sherrow knew he had the inmate in his sights, he and one of his superiors went back to clear the area and as they were doing that, the inmate jumped the fence right into the other officers who were on scene.

“We had the whole section pretty much cordoned off,” Sherrow said. “If I wouldn’t have stayed on him, we would’ve lost him.”

At one point during the chase, Sherrow said he drew his service pistol because he was unsure if the inmate had possibly picked up a weapon during the chase or had a hostage. Sherrow didn’t want to be caught off guard with no way of protecting himself.

Sherrow said the inmate still had his IV in his arm and needed to be checked out by medical after finally being detained. The inmate was then transported to the detention center.

 

The Injuries

 

In the process of the inmate being transported back to the detention center, Sherrow did a check of himself to see the extent of his injuries. There was blood on his trousers, and he couldn’t figure out what was going on.

When he looked down at the palm of his hand, he noticed a half dollar sized chunk was missing. The wound was so bad that doctors weren’t able to stitch it because there wasn’t enough flesh around the wound to stitch it up.

“I hit the tree so hard it just blew the skin off,” Sherrow said. “It looked like a really bad road rash. I was scraped up, had pine and cypress leaves and needles stuck in my uniform, my duty holster, magazines, you name it I had stuff just everywhere.”

Sherrow then recalls he was feeling pains in his hand and initially it was suspected he had broken the scaphoid in his wrist. The x-rays continually came back negative, and doctors could not figure out what the issue was.

Several days later, Sherrow could hardly use his right hand. He went in for multiple follow-up appointments before the doctor discovered he suffered severe nerve damage and the injury was serious enough to typically medically retire Sherrow.

“The sheriff’s department did not retain me, because I will never be able to return to full duty,” Sherrow said. “The surgeries are not guaranteed I will get 100% use of my right arm back and I’m right hand dominant.”

Sherrow injured his Ulnar nerve through the elbow, which had to be transposed. Two and a half inches of his Ulnar nerve were dead. He ruptured the Ulnar nerve, Radial nerve and damaged the Median nerve in the thumb.

The wound on his hand was too severe for doctors to stitch up, but they were able to put a patch over it and let it heal on its own.

The palm of his hand was all healed up when he went in for his first surgery in mid-November of 2020.

 

The Surgeries and Recovery

 

The first surgery Sherrow underwent wasn’t until mid-November of 2020 just before Thanksgiving. It wasn’t until October of 2020 when doctors realized his injury was a nerve related issue instead of broken, like first expected.

During the first surgery, Sherrow said the doctors did an Ulnar release surgery where doctors cut and separate the overlying ligaments. This is done to help relieve pressure on the Ulnar nerve.

“They did an Ulnar release in the elbow,” Sherrow said. “I originally asked for and requested them to transpose it into my elbow so I would have a chance for a full recovery. They did not; the surgeon opted not to and several months later we’re cutting it back open and my chances for a full recovery are non-existent. What percentage is unknown.”

The second surgery was on Tuesday, May 18. It was conducted by Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Eleanor von Stade at Banner Health in Torrington. The primary goal was to get Sherrow out of the pain and discomfort he continued to feel in his right arm after surgery.

Before undergoing the second surgery, Sherrow was doing strength therapy to help build the strength in his arm so the surgery wouldn’t be too rough on him.

After the first surgery, Sherrow said he was getting better, but then issues continued to pop up and his progress steadily declined. He started having a lot of issues with his thumb, which was a big focus in his second surgery.

“I wasn’t getting any better after the first surgery,” Sherrow said. “I was getting better and then all of a sudden I started having more issues and started having issues with the thumb. They actually went in [on the second surgery] and split the nerves and slit them differently.”

Sherrow hopes the surgery he underwent on May 18 will be the last surgery he has to undergo, but it all hangs on how the recovery process goes for him. He doesn’t know if he will have a recovery of 60% or up to 90%.

Sherrow kept having issues with his first surgeon and was tired of driving back and forth to Loveland, Colorado, just to have his surgeon tell him to come back in a few weeks to be re-evaluated again. He went to Dr. von Stade to get a second opinion and she was the one who said a second surgery would be needed.

“Dr. von Stade said it was pretty gnarly in there,” Sherrow said. “She is an absolutely amazing surgeon, and I’m glad she’s joined the Banner Health Group up here. She’s done a great job and her follow-up care has been spot on; couldn’t ask for anything better. I wasn’t getting that treatment before from a previous surgeon.”

Every morning when Sherrow wakes up, he has a numb feeling up and down his right arm. He said it feels like his arm is asleep and it takes time for it to feel somewhat normal.

Two of Sherrow’s biggest passions are fishing and golf. He still hasn’t been able to play golf but has been able to do some fishing. He has also had to take it easy with his kids because he can’t use his arm in the way he used to.

Sherrow said the injury has been a life-changing incident and something that has been a struggle for him and his family to overcome. He is right-hand dominant and needed to relearn everything using his left-hand.

He also said he’s dealt with weight issues off and on the past year. Not being able to be as active as he was before took a toll on him physically. Instead of being able to go outside and be active with his kids, he’s had to do a lot of things inside and play video games for some type of distraction.

 

The Support of Family and the Community

 

Throughout the entire recovery process, Sherrow has relied on the support he’s received from his family and from the Torrington community.

Sherrow has felt the love and support from his wife Kayla and their three children: six-year-old Christian, five-year old Kaydence and two-year old Charlotte.

One of the things that touched Sherrow the most, and made him break down to tears, was when his son said he wants to be a police officer when he grows up.

“One of the things I want to share that has resonated with me and actually made me cry and I don’t cry, I’m not a crier, I hide my emotions as best as possible,” Sherrow said. “My son, we asked him, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ and he said ‘I want to be a cop, I want to be a Police Officer. [We asked him] why? He says, ‘I want to be daddy’s backup, so he doesn’t get hurt and this was after I got hurt. That was one of the coolest things I have ever heard a child say.”

Sherrow also wanted to thank the people in the Goshen County community for their continued support of the law enforcement officers in the community and reinforce how much he and the other officers care about the people in this community.

“The biggest thing I want to make sure that comes out of this, is the positive note toward the community,” Sherrow said. “There are people here that care. I wouldn’t have done my job if I didn’t care. We live here, my kids are growing up here. I want to make sure this community is safe for them and not just my children, how about everybody else’s? I know [Sheriff] Kory [Fleenor] cares strongly about keeping our community safe. I may not be an officer anymore, but I still have that mentality.”

The final group of people Sherrow wanted to thank were the other hardworking law enforcement officers who responded to the incident and had his back in a life-or-death situation. Without his backup, Sherrow might not be here today for his wife and three kids.

“My backup was a radio call away and in Goshen County who knows where they are at,” Sherrow said. “Fortunately, everybody was there quickly and [Torrington] P.D. responded. Our control clerk was absolutely amazing at dispatching the call and making sure everybody knew where I was at, because I didn’t have time to change to the police frequency. It worked, we caught him. I don’t know if I would’ve if our local agency of the P.D. and Sheriff’s didn’t respond like they did. Torrington Police Department was awesome in getting patrols up there to back us up as Deputy Sheriffs.”

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