This is the emotional and inspiring story of retired Phoenix Police Officer, Jason Schechterle.
Growing up, Jason had one dream – to serve as a Phoenix Police Officer. Inspired by his brother and the tragic loss of a local law enforcement hero, Jason worked persistently towards his dream. After serving four years in the Air Force, at the age 26, Jason achieved his goal to work on the streets of Phoenix as a rookie police officer. Then, only 14 months into what was supposed to be a life-long illustrious career, Jason’s life took an unexpected, dramatic and, at the time, tragic turn.
At 11:01pm, on the fateful night of March 26, 2001, Jason Schechterle, then a Rookie City of Phoenix Police Officer was stopped at a red light. The dispatcher calling out over his squad car, Jason in the line of duty began to respond to a possible nearby homicide. As Jason waited for the light to turn green, suddenly and unexpectedly, his Crown Victoria was struck from behind by a taxi cab driver whose car was exceeding 100 miles per hour. Jason’s car instantly burst into flames, and he sat strapped and trapped in his vehicle, burning alive in raging flames that exceeded over 1000 degrees.
Crews worked feverishly to save his life, putting their own lives and risk, and after 8 long minutes, Jason was freed, only to discover that over 50 percent of his body had been engulfed in the flames. He had no skin, no face, and no resemblance of the man that once was remained.
After arriving at the hospital, Doctors worked for over 7 hours to save Jason’s life. No physician believed Jason would make it through the night. He was covered in 3rd and 4th degree burns throughout his face and torso to the point that his own wife and best friend found him unrecognizable. He survived the night, and lay in a coma for 2 ½ months… and the prognosis to live much less fully recover was grave. He was never expected to talk, walk, regain his sight and function as he once had.
52 surgeries later, surrounded by tremendous love, faith and a resilient will to live, Jason began his long and painful recovery. Ten years later, through a series of big and small miracles, Jason now travels the country serving as a motivational speaker, sharing his story of hope and optimism. Today, Jason lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and 3 wonderful children and describes himself as the Luckiest Man Alive!