Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Police Sergeant Shows Few Signs of Near-Fatal Stabbing; the Support She's Received from Fellow Officers Only Makes Her More Determined to Return

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Police Sergeant Shows Few Signs of Near-Fatal Stabbing; the Support She's Received from Fellow Officers Only Makes Her More Determined to Return

Article excerpt

Byline: JOE JOHNSON

ATHENS, Ga. -- Courtney Gale appeared the picture of health and happiness as she sat in a gazebo at Foundry Park Inn one morning this week.

On her way home from a workout at the gym, she showed only a small hint of the trauma she's suffered -- a crutch propped against her chair.

"It's amazing that four months have gone by, and here I am, in the spring, and I'm loving it," the 31-year-old officer said.

Gale was a supervisor in the Athens-Clarke County Police Department's robbery-homicide unit when a mentally ill man stabbed her nearly to death Dec. 11 while she was working an off-duty security job at a West Athens grocery store.

When she was released from a Decatur rehab program last week, she wasted no time visiting her colleagues. She arrived unannounced at the Athens-Clarke police department the day after she was discharged.

"I miss the police department," Gale said in her first interview since the attack. "Professionally, that's where my heart is, so it brought tears to my eyes seeing these folks who have shown their support throughout this whole process.

"It was a realization that I'm back. I'm here. That's breathtaking."

Family, friends and doctors have marveled at how Gale is recovering from the attack at the Kroger store, where a man who was opening packages of meat with a large knife lunged at Gale, pinned her to the ground and stabbed her 10 times. One slash severed a femoral artery and Gale almost bled to death.

"Given the extent of Courtney's injuries, her recovery to date truly has been nothing short of miraculous," said David Sailors, a vascular surgeon at St. Mary's Hospital who repaired Gale's artery and other wounds.

Luckily, a nurse who was shopping at Kroger fashioned the store manager's belt into a tourniquet and used anything else at hand to stanch the bleeding.

"I think the nurse (who has shied away from public recognition) came to visit me at the hospital, but I don't remember," Gale said. …

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