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Injured Officer Makes His Return To ATV Course

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- A year has passed since police officer Jim Kuzak responded to a home invasion in Clairton.

Five bullets from a gunman slowed him down, but did not stop him. Now, he takes another step on the long road back.

Can he still control the ATV he once loved to drive?

ATV trainer Tom Mershimer volunteers his time to bring the rider back up to speed. Training in a field in Wampum will prepare him for the wooded trails of the Mines and Meadows ATV course.

"The only change is trying to get used to how I have to orient my body on the quad," Kuzak says.

"With Jim not being able to have full function of his legs," Mershimer explains, "he has to rely on his upper body, and just with body leans be able to move his weight to the sides, forward and backward."

It's good therapy, mental and physical. Dave Tullis of Mines and Meadows teamed up with UPMC rehab director Chris Venus to provide officer Kuzak with the training, and the trails.

Determination comes from within.

Immediately after the shooting, Jim's father said "I guess we'll have to sell the quad."

Jim's response: "Don't. I will ride again."

"It's hopefully an inspiration for those who thought their life was over with a spinal cord injury," says Kuzak, "but it's not. To get back to something that I did before the shooting and to come back so quickly within a year, it's wonderful."

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