After all, when the trooper was airlifted to Harborview last week, he was in critical condition.
What a difference a few days makes.
“He still has a little road to go,” said Dean Atkinson Sr. “But he’s in the condition where there’s nothing that would prevent him from performing his duties as a trooper in the future.”
It is, says Atkinson, a miracle. The son who bears his name, the Washington State trooper shot multiple times last Thursday, will survive.
The 27-year-old trooper, a Walla Walla native, somehow delivered himself to a hospital.
“Drove to the hospital, exited his car,” said Atkinson, “Walked up to the ER door. It’s a secure facility kind of like this and banged on the door. His hand prints and blood was on the glass door of the ER. And walked in. There was a blood trail from his car to the door. He protected himself with his hand when he got shot and that’s what caused the hand injury.”
Soon he was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center, his trooper family already waiting outside.
“Any needs that we have as a family,” Atkinson said, “They’re here for us.”
And so, he says, are the people of their hometown.
“I might get a little choked up,” he said, his eyes welling up.
Then, the retired firefighter, a National Guardsman who serves with his son, got emotional.
“So, I asked Dean this morning if he would be OK with me sharing his condition and his status,” his voice breaking, “So people back in Walla Walla could have peace.”
And he is able to communicate.
“Yeah, he’ll shake his head ‘no,’” said Atkinson, “Nod his head ‘yes’ or give a thumbs up. He pumped his fist.”
He credits his son’s steady recovery to a motto tattooed on his arm.
“It says ‘always come home’ with a thin blue line,” said Atkinson. “That’s why he made it to the hospital. Because of his determination.”
Dean Atkinson Sr. says he will continue coming to see his son at Harborview every day until he is well enough to leave.
Dean Atkinson Jr.’s mother, sister and fiancée will be back soon, too.