Police chief loses lower arm in fireworks accident

Posted at 8:00 AM, Jul 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-02 08:00:58-04

PITTSBURGH (WPXI/CNN) – A Pennsylvania police chief who lost the lower part of his arm in a fireworks accident is finding inspiration in his 8-week-old son.

Leechburg Police Chief Mike Diebold is having many surgeries to save what’s left of his arm, including his elbow joint. Through it all, the man’s fiancee, Danielle Reinke, and the couple’s infant son have been by his side at the hospital every day.

"If he could be healed by love alone, he would be healed a million times over," Reinke said.

Diebold’s biggest inspiration, as doctors talk about the possibility of prosthetics, has been his 8-week-old son.

"He wants to be able to hold his son, tie his shoes, change his diapers. That's his concern. And I told him, with all the help that everyone's giving, we want to get you that arm that's going to let you do all that," Reinke said.

Diebold lost the lower part of his arm while setting off fireworks last Saturday at the Leechburg Volunteer Fire Department Carnival. The police chief, who is licensed to set off fireworks, was lighting the mortars when one exploded, striking him.

"First we heard a loud – it sounded like an explosion, and I was watching it from five blocks away at my parents’ house. And I just knew, and without anyone saying a word, I got in my car and rushed down,” Reinke said.

Diebold lost three-quarters of his blood in the accident, and he didn’t stop bleeding until someone took off their belt and tied it around his arm.

"I guess they were wrapping blankets and everything, and nothing would stop the bleeding," Reinke said. "I call them angels. They're all angels."

Reinke says the angels come every day in the form of police officers visiting her fiance. She says Diebold has a passion for police work and is determined to return as chief of police.

Copyright 2017 WPXI, Danielle Reinke, Dawn and Emma Mellinger via CNN. All rights reserved.