One of the first physical therapists who worked with Oklahoma City Police Officer Chad Peery said his tragic death won’t diminish her memories of his courage, optimism and sense of humor.
Peery was killed in a violent car accident Sunday evening as he and his four children were riding in a van that experienced a tire blowout along I-40, near Seminole.
Peery died from his injuries Monday afternoon. His children were all injured in the crash.
Peery became well-known after he was paralyzed during an attack two years ago while removing rowdy bar patrons from an Oklahoma City club.
Physical Therapist Chelsee Truesdell talked to us on the job Tuesday at Integris Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation in southwest Oklahoma City.
She helped Peery learn everything from just sitting up to getting from his bed to a wheelchair.
“He would come in and be like ‘what are we going to do new today? What’s new? Let’s try something new,’” Truesdell remembered with a smile.
Imagine having such optimism not long after being attacked.
Truesdell said Peery rarely talked about the men who left him paralyzed in a bar, mainly because he was too busy keeping his therapy light-hearted with laughter – like the time Truesdell and another therapist were helping him move.
She said, “We were in the middle of a transfer and he goes ‘Owww!’ and Elizabeth said ‘Oh my gosh, what did I do?’ And he was like ‘Ha, gotcha.’”
But one of her favorite moments was when Peery stood in front of an inspired Thunder crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“(His motto) was something about ‘defeat is not an option,’ and it wasn’t an option for him,” she said. “He was not going to be defeated.”
The news of Peery’s death from, of all things, a car wreck, is devastating to everyone who knew him.
Especially those who witnessed his relentless determination.
“He’s worked so hard to get to where he is and shown so much courage and fight every day that I was like, it’s just not fair,” she said.
“He never gave up,” she said. “He never, ever gave up.”
Truesdell said she hopes people remember Peery’s smile, his passion for living, even in difficult circumstances, and that trademark determination.
As of Tuesday evening, OU Medical Center said his 13-year-old daughter, McKinsey, was listed in good condition and 11-year-old Mason was listed in fair condition.
However, 7-year-old McKade and 5-year-old Morgan have been released from the hospital.