Douglas County sheriff’s detective thanks surgeon who saved his life

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. -- A Douglas County sheriff's detective who was shot and critically injured on the job is well on his way to walking again.

On Sept. 2, a suicidal man shot Det. Dan Brite in the chest. When arrived at nearby Parker Adventist Hospital, he was basically dead. Brite had no vitals and had lost a lot of blood.

"I've never seen a patient survive in a scenario as grave as he was when he came in," said Michael Bertocchi, the trauma surgeon who operated on Brite. "Deep down, we didn't think he was going to make it. We just kept being as aggressive as we could."

On Monday, Brite publicly thanked Bertocchi for saving his life during a special ceremony at the Parker Town Hall. Brite told family, friends and colleagues about how Bertocchi massaged his heart back to life.

"I'm just so lucky he had experience with that operation and he knew what to do. I can't fathom someone holding your heart and massaging it back to life. That's amazing," Brite said.

Brite is now learning how to walk again with the help of leg braces. He hopes to soon begin using a pair of robotic legs donated to him by Home Depot as he continues his training.

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Douglas County sheriff's Det. Dan Brite.

Brite recently stood for the first time since the shooting and for the first time since September, the pain left his body.

"I had no idea, so I never want to sit down now," Brite said.

Brite said he has a lot of people cheering him on as he continues his road to recovery. However, he said it's a journey he wouldn't even have embarked upon had it not been for the surgeon who literally held his heart and saved his life.

"Every Sept. 2 I'm calling that guy. It's like going to be our own holiday. I'm going to be calling him to tell him how thankful we are that I'm here," Brite said.