By MARY ANN O’TOOLE HOLLEY
Wildwood, MO –Tucked away along the hillsides off Hwy. 109 in West St. Louis County is a huge, roughed in home that will bring a new life to seriously injured Police Officer Ryan O’Connor, who was shot while transporting a prisoner one terrible day two years ago.
Last week, during a one-day blitz, 30 employees of J Bathe Electric Company volunteered their time to run the home’s complete wiring system. By the end of the day, the electric was finished and ready for an Ameren meter.
“We heard about the home being built, and we found we had plenty of volunteers, so we contacted the Sinise Foundation and offered our skills and support for the project,” said Mike Williams, director of Operations for J Bathe. “Everyone pitched in and we got the job done. The sooner the home is ready, the sooner Officer O’Conner and his family will be enjoying their new freedom.”
SMART HOME TO HELP RECLAIM INDEPENDENCE
Officer O’Conner, his wife Barbara, and their four sons currently live in a small, 800-square-foot home that presents major challenges for the family’s everyday life.
The new 4,000-square-foot residence designed by Compass Homes has been specially planned as an adaptive “smart home” that will provide a safe haven for O’Connor to reclaim his independence. Built from the ground up with his individual needs in mind, the home will alleviate stress on the entire family. It is the sixth home constructed by Compass Homes for the Sinise Foundation, an organization founded by actor Gary Sinise (Forrest Gump fame) honoring our defenders, veterans, first responders and their families and those in need.
“These police officers, service members and first responders have already done their part. They have already given of themselves,” said Sinise as part of the organizations mission statement. “And it is our great privilege, through the trust of the American people and the support given to us, to do our part to give something back to them.”
THE FATEFUL DAY
On Dec. 5, 2017, Ryan was transporting a burglary suspect while working with the Arnold Police Department. The suspect pulled out a hidden firearm and opened fire inside of Ryan’s police SUV, shooting him in the head.
He was rushed to emergency surgery where a large portion of his skull was removed. Ryan spent months rehabilitating and overcame a series of infections and other setbacks. Just two months after the shooting, Ryan was able to speak his first full sentence.
“I just gotta get my badge,” he said, showing that his will remained intact.
Officer O’Connor was raised in St. Louis. His father was a Marine Sergeant in Vietnam and spent 44 years in law enforcement. Ryan’s older brother, Kenny, was a cryptologist assigned to Seal Team 8, serving 20 years in the Navy.
Following in his family’s footsteps, Ryan decided to dedicate his life to protecting people. After graduating from the police academy in 1997, he was hired by the St. Louis County Police Department. Ryan served there for 12 years before deciding to join the Ferguson Police Department.
Ryan accepted a job for the Arnold Missouri Police Department with the hope of working in an area close to his home. He received multiple awards for his admirable service.
The BackStoppers, an organization that supports the families of law enforcement and other first responders has donated $5,000 to help O’Connor. A GoFundMe page is also raising money for the injured officer. Donations can also be made in person at Fortune Bank, 3494 Jeffco Blvd., in Arnold. The bank phone number is 636-464-9003. You may also donate to the Gary Sinise Foundation at garysinisefoundation.org.