North Carolina State Trooper Chris Wooten will spend Thanksgiving at home for the first time in two years. He’s been in an Atlanta hospital since 2019 after he was paralyzed from the neck down on the job.
It was supposed to be a routine traffic stop. Chris Wooten tried to pull over a car in July 2019, but the man fled, kicking off a chase through Charlotte. Wooten doesn’t know what happened next. But reports at the time said he slammed into a pick-up truck during the pursuit. The next thing he remembers is waking up in a hospital room, unable to feel or move his body.
But after two and a half years of grueling physical therapy and rehab at the Shepherd Center hospital in Atlanta, Chris Wooten returned to North Carolina to a hero’s welcome on Tuesday, Nov. 23., just in time for the holidays.
“[It’s] like Christmas 10 times over. We’re really excited,” Wooten told WJZY. “It feels like a dream. We’ve been looking forward to this for so long. For it to finally be here is really amazing.”
Dozens of North Carolina State Troopers greeted him near his home in Cramerton.
“Chris and the entire Wooten family have been a blessing to so many these past years, and we are humbled to help him return home to North Carolina with a fitting reception,” said the commander of the N.C. Highway Patrol Col. Freddy L. Johnson Jr. “To see friends, family, and strangers that were moved by his story come together in support is a testament to the spirit the Wooten family have exuded.”
Wooten graduated from the Shepherd Center rehab program in February, but he had to wait there. Workers had to renovate his home to address his new needs before he could return.
Chris Wooten’s Wife on Life After the Accident
Sharon Wooten was at home when a solemn-looking Trooper knocked on their door in July 2019. Chris was in an accident, and they didn’t know if he was going to make it.
Doctors were able to save his life, and that’s all she cared about. The rest they could figure out later, she told WSOC in 2019. It’s been an adjustment since then, but they said it made their marriage stronger.
“I’m just trying to accept that it’s a new normal, a new way of life, and we’re going to make the most of it,” Sharon said.
Thankfully, technology has improved the lives of paralyzed people. Chris can move his wheelchair by sipping and puffing on a straw attached to a computer. Apps on his phone allow him to make phone calls and send texts and emails.
Chris Wooten said he’s just happy he is still around to spend time with his two daughters. Though, he wishes he’d done one thing more before his accident.
“I feel like I hugged my wife and kissed her every day before work before,” he said in 2019, “but you wish you had done it a little more.”