Have you ever met a New York state trooper? I have. My uncle is Donald Baker Jr.
On Aug. 31, 2008, it will be the second anniversary of when Trooper Baker and his partner Joseph A. Longobardo were shot by fugitive Ralph “Bucky” Phillips.
Trooper Longobardo died of his wound three days after the shooting.
Trooper Baker had seven to eight surgeries done on him. Baker said, “When I woke up the pain on a scale of 1 to 10 was an eight.”
Baker had all of the surgeries when he was in a coma. He was in Erie, Pa., for two and a half months. When he finally woke up after seven days, he said, “To me in the coma, it only seemed like a day.”
Trooper Baker also said, “When I woke up and was in a hospital bed I was really surprised because I didn’t remember the day of the shooting.”
The day of Trooper Longobardo’s funeral Trooper Baker was still in a hospital bed in a coma.
Phillips was caught seven days after the ambush. He was put in one of the biggest prisons in the state.
A month or two later Trooper Baker came back to Albany Medical Center. On the helicopter ride back home he was very excited.
He counted his get-well cards and realized that he got over one thousand!
“When I got home, normal things like getting out of bed were hard for me,” Baker said. “Things are still sometimes hard to do like sit-ups and stuff with my stomach.”
My Uncle Don has been through a lot, and I am proud of him.
Now he’s back home and can eat anything he wants because at first he couldn’t do that. He is lifting weights and working out. He is a sergeant and works at home.
My uncle is doing better in his home and is almost recovered fully. We enjoy hanging out together and I am glad that he is still here.
Joey Fraser is a fourth-grader at Otke Elementary School in Clifton Park.