It’s astounding to think that just six weeks ago no one knew if Mike McClaughry would live or die.
He was completely incapacitated with a gunshot wound to the head suffered in the line of duty with the Mount Vernon Police Department.
Now, not only is McClaughry conscious, he’s up and walking.
Not just that, he’s doing hours of physical therapy every week and will likely be released from the hospital later this month.
"It really doesn't surprise me all that much," says his daughter, April. "That's just the kind of guy he is."
Mike McClaughry, 60, was shot in the back of the head by an alleged gang member December 15th.
His daughter says after 30 years on the force she stopped worrying too much about whether her dad would make it home at the end of his shift.
But when she got word from her aunt that night that an officer had been shot, her heart sank.
Three decades of good fortune vanished in an instant.
"I was like…is it him? It’s him, isn’t it? And she said they were taking him to the hospital," says April, fighting back tears. "It’s weird because you just have that feeling, you know? It’s tough."
Also tough, though, is Mike McClaughry.
While doctors still look at his recovery as “day to day” he is making incredible strides. Much of it has to do with his persistently positive attitude.
"Oh, it’s a huge factor," says McClaughry's physical therapist Mike Anderson. "From the beginning, Mike has had a sense of humor. He has had a level of determination that is going to take him far in his rehabilitation."
In his first words spoken publicly since the shooting, McClaughry told KING 5 News he is focused on going home, "I wanna do it. And if you wanna do it, it’s gonna happen. I don’t know any other way."
A full recovery, though, will be an uphill battle.
McClaughry remains blind, but doctors say there’s a chance his sight could return.
His memory is spotty. He does not remember the shooting which is probably good, but he also doesn’t remember his grandchildren, which is heartbreaking.
"That memory loss can be frustrating for him and it can be very tiring for us, too," says April.
But McClaughry continues to work very hard. He’s working toward the day he’ll remember his grandkids and possibly even see them again.
The support shown by his community has been overwhelming.
"Everybody has been fabulous," says the veteran officer, breaking down in tears. "This kind of thing was so unexpected. I appreciate all of it."
April has quit her job to help her mom and dad full-time. She worries for their financial future and has started a GoFundMe account in her dad’s name.
Several fundraisers are in the works for the McClaughry family, including a spaghetti feed at the Mount Vernon Elks Club February 13th. You can find out more about how you can help on the Facebook page April set up for her dad.
"It's so they can really just focus on recovery and retirement and being together," says April. "When my dad wasn't talking, my mom would say, ‘I can’t wait for him to just wake up and get home so I can have an argument with him!'"
Mike McClaughry’s 39th wedding anniversary is later this month and he intends to be home to celebrate, and maybe even argue a little bit, with his wife.
"I just want to get through this and move forward," he says.
"He’s alive," says April. "That's all that matters. He will succeed in whatever the outcome is."