PATCHOGUE, Long Island (WABC) -- A Suffolk County police officer who was stabbed in the line of duty was released from the hospital Monday to cheers from fellow officers.
Officer Christopher Racioppo was stabbed in the leg by a suspected drunk driver during a struggle in Patchogue on April 10, according to authorities. A major artery was severed, and Racioppo nearly died.
Racioppo knew he had a lot of support, but the hundreds of officers who lined the hospital entrance wanted to make sure he had no doubts about that.
In addition to his brothers and sisters in blue, there were bagpipes and a police helicopter flyover.
"I'm happy to go home," he said. "A lot of doctors and nurses to thank."
County officials and fellow officers were there at Stony Brook University Hospital to thank the 31-year-old officer for protecting the community.
"He is a hero for what he did that night and all of the officers for the way they responded," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said.
Suffolk PBA President Noel DiGeralmo said the officer came off intubation only a few days ago.
"Officer Racioppo exemplifies what it is to be a law enforcement professional, not just in Suffolk County and New York State but our entire country," he said. "There's no doubt that the thoughts and prayers that were going out from the public had something to do with this also, so I ask that they please continue that."
Dr. James Vosswinkel, Chief of Trauma Surgery at Stony Brook University Hospital, said the officer would have bled to death in 20 minutes. Racioppo's time at Stony Brook University Hospital was very touch and go, and doctors say it's a miracle he survived.
"He was on a ventilator for 10 days, pulmonary complications from the degree of shock," Dr. Vosswinkel said.
Police say Racioppo attempted to pull over a driver the driver of a Mercedes who was driving with his headlights off, but that the driver, Jonathan Nunez, fled the scene and then crashed into another car before attempting to flee on foot.
Racciopo, a 31-year-old who joined the force in 2018, ran after him, and a struggle ensued. That's when Nunez allegedly stabbed Racioppo.
Retired Marine Guillermo Sandoval, who lives nearby, watched the scene play out and ran to the officer's aid. He helped tie a tourniquet and get Racioppo into a police car, and he came back to cheer on the release.
"Really just kept up the faith, prayed every night out in the backyard where it happened," Sandoval said. "I'm elated to be here today."
Racioppo's pregnant fiancée is an ICU nurse at the hospital.
"I'm grateful he's coming home, thank you," Brittany Cunningham said.
So are her parents.
"It's going to be a slow recovery, but he'll come around," Racioppo's fiancé's father Chris Cunningham said. "He's a strong kid."
Racioppo still has months of intense physical therapy ahead of him, but on Monday, he is back home with his family.
"I hope with each passing day and week, he becomes stronger and healthier and will be able to return to the job that he put his life on the line for, and to the department and to the community whose prayers have been answered," Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said.
Nunez is facing charges for DWI and aggravated assault on a police officer.
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