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Sterling Heights

August 16, 2013

Police Lt. recovering after lake accident

By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer

Sterling Heights Police Lt. Dale Dwojakowski is continuing to make progress while recovering from a broken neck, according to members of the Sterling Heights Police Department.

According to police, Dwojakowski, 42, broke his neck during the evening of Aug. 3 while diving off a boat in the Muscamoot Bay area of Lake St. Clair.

Days after the injury, police said Dwojakowski had some movement in his limbs and was gaining strength and mobility. The lieutenant, whose responsibilities have included overseeing the police traffic safety bureau and being a D.A.R.E. officer, has been placed on medical leave after serving about 17 years at the Police Department.

On Aug. 14, Sterling Heights Police Chief Michael Reese said he has heard that Dwojakowski is progressing but is still at Beaumont Hospital’s Royal Oak campus and is not seeing visitors yet.

“He is making progress in physical therapy,” Reese said. “He still has a challenge ahead of him.”

Reese said two police sergeants, Sgt. Aaron Burgess and Sgt. Daryl Brown, have stepped up to cover Dwojakowski’s duties and day-to-day operations in the meantime.

“Obviously, we miss Dale’s presence in the Police Department, both as a lieutenant and as a person,” Reese said.

In an e-mail, Burgess said his initial reaction to Dwojakowski’s injury was disbelief.

“I have seen him take some significant Mountain Bike crashes over the years and walk away without a scratch,” he said. “He's in excellent shape and works out daily.”

Burgess said Dwojakowski’s wife, Jennifer, and family were all “extremely upset” by the injury. Besides the worries over the lieutenant’s health, the family now has to deal with a major financial loss while taking care of two children, Burgess said.

According to Burgess, anyone who wants to make a tax-deductible donation to the family may direct it to PNC Bank, account No. 4272880441. Checks may be sent to the Thin Blue Line of Michigan by making clear in the memo section, “Fund to benefit to the family of Dale Dwojakowski,” Burgess said.

People may continue to send Dwojakowski get-well cards via the Police Department’s address by adding, “Attention: Sgt. Aaron Burgess.” Burgess added that Dwojakowski is overwhelmed by the support he has received from coworkers, the community and his D.A.R.E. students.

Looking ahead, Burgess said the lieutenant’s friends and coworkers are putting together an “Iron Man” golf fundraiser at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 6 at the Myth Golf Course in Oakland Township.

Burgess said Dwojakowski’s situation has been called “one in a million” and a miracle.

“He has been extremely fortunate for his life and now his mobility,” he said. “He continues to improve daily and has pushed himself and his physical therapists hard. Like everything in his life, Dale will treat this new challenge as an opportunity to challenge himself and be the best he can be.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at eczarnik@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1058.