STONY BROOK, N.Y. - A celebration of life. Survival. Perseverance.
"I'm happy to go home. A lot of doctors and nurses to thank," said Christopher Racioppo as he was brought out of Stony Brook University Hospital in a wheelchair.
The Suffolk County police officer left the hospital Monday, more than two weeks after he was stabbed in the leg in Patchogue.
"I was truly concerned he wasn't going to make it. As has been told multiple times, Chris essentially had bled out his entire blood volume," Dr. James Vosswinkel, the chief of trauma, told reporters. "He was in the most severe form of shock and he literally had minutes before his cells shut down."
A driver who was trying to evade arrest for being intoxicated stabbed Racioppo, 31, on April 10, police said.
A military veteran who lives nearby ran over to help and used a belt as a tourniquet. A retired NYPD detective was driving by and jumped out to help subdue the suspect, who was then arrested. Both good Samaritans showed their support Monday as Racioppo left the hospital. They recounted that frightening day.
"At some point, the officer went down and I didn't know why at first but I learned later he had gotten stabbed," retired NYPD detective J.R. Recupero said. "While I am in a dog fight with this guy."
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Guillermo Sandoval, a Marine Corps veteran, said he took out his phone and called 911.
"Then I saw the injury, grabbed the belt, and by that time officers came in and helped me out with it," Sandoval said, "and we took him to the hospital."
The suspect, Jonathan Nunez, 25, is set to be arraigned later this week.
Racioppo now has a wedding to plan with his fiancée who happens to be a nurse at Stony Brook.