The lifelong New Canaan resident and career police officer who was dragged 35 feet during a motor vehicle stop on Route 106 said he’s home recovering, will start physical therapy Wednesday and hopes to be back at work in two weeks.
Lt. Fred Pickering became entangled in the seat belt of a 2004 VW Jetta on Thursday night after a motorist said to be distressed stepped on the accelerator as police tried to remove him from the car where it was stopped north of Weed Street.
The car crashed into a snow bank and Pickering told NewCanaanite.com that he sustained bruises on his knees, a strained shoulder and strained muscles in his back.
“It probably took 20 seconds but it seemed like 20 minutes, to be honest with you,” the 1986 New Canaan High School graduate said.
“I couldn’t get loose and I was just literally bouncing down the road and my first thought was just to get the guy away from the car, because I thought he was going to get run over at first, because he got hung up as he was coming out of the car. So I turned to try to get him loose and the other officer pulled him out, and as that happened I literally got hooked on his seatbelt and went face-down almost into his seat. And it dragged me down the road and I couldn’t get enough momentum to get myself back up. And I feel very fortunate that it went to the right and hit a snow bank because if we’d gone to the left we would have gone into oncoming traffic, which obviously Thursday night at 6 o’clock on 106 is busy.”
The incident happened at about 6:10 p.m. The 24-year-old motorist involved in the incident, a Norwalk man who has served in the U.S. Armed Forces and had been reported as suicidal by a 9-1-1 caller, was charged with assault on a police officer, interfering with a police officer, weapon in a motor vehicle (police later found a knife in the center console) and reckless driving. He was held on $15,000 bond and arraigned in state Superior Court in Norwalk.
Pickering said he feared during the incident that he would be caught under the tire of the car.
“I kept seeing the tire,” he recalled. “It was pretty much right at face level and I kept thinking that if I do let go—because I was kind of holding on and trying to get out, not really sure what to do—that I thought I would tumble underneath the car and the car would go over me.”
Pickering—a volunteer youth sports coach whose father also was born and raised in New Canaan—said the response from the community has been “as always, very positive.”
“New Canaan is filled with amazing, amazing people who have always supported me and my family,” he said.
Asked whether he had a message for the town, Pickering said: “I’m just very thankful for the well-wishes and the people who have stopped by the house.”
He continued in halting language: “We’ve had people make us dinners, we’ve had people—it’s just an amazing thing, it really is, because you totally feel part of the community, which I can never—when I retire, that will be the thing I remember most, is the way people treated us.”