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Police Chief Who Lost Arm Told He Can't Return To Work Despite Clearances

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LEECHBURG (KDKA) -- Leechburg Police Chief Michael Diebold lost his arm in a fireworks accident earlier this year, but he says that wasn't the most awful thing to happen to him.

Diebold was supposed to return to work Monday as chief, but it didn't happen, and now he's considering a lawsuit.

It was June 24 when Diebold lost his arm in a horrific fireworks accident. Since that time, Diebold has been preparing for a comeback as full-time chief.

"Full motion, I can do anything. Fight somebody off, grab a hold of somebody," Diebold said. "There's nothing physically now that I cannot do that I could not do before the accident."

He has the paperwork to back him up -- a document from his doctors stating, "He is medically cleared to return to full duty work."

He also has a certification of firearms qualification and a document from the District Attorney saying:

"Our office has been provided documentation Mike has been medically cleared to work ... He has been re-certified in firearms and has an active MPOETC number, all of which are required for certification."

"I was ready to go to work today at 3 p.m.," Diebold said Monday.

Diebold says that was the plan; that was the promise from the mayor and town council all along. He says the mayor told him there are legal concerns, and until they're worked out, Diebold's on unpaid leave.

"The way this hit, it's almost like I got my other arm torn off again," he said.

He says he got the call he couldn't come back to work while he was Christmas shopping with his wife and 8-month-old son.

"Nobody will give me any explanation, any documentation, any reason," he said. "How would you like it if your life is ripped out from under you, and you don't know what your future holds? Especially when you're trying to have a Christmas for your kids. You don't know financially what you can and can't do now. I can honestly say this is the most despicable thing that's ever happened to me in my life."

KDKA's Marty Griffin spoke to Leechburg Mayor Wayne Dobos. He didn't want to talk about any of the allegations and read a statement over the phone, saying, "Myself and all of the town council wish the chief a speedy return. It's now in the hands of our lawyers."

If it isn't resolved soon, Diebold says he will sue.

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