A New Hampshire State Police trooper who is lucky to be alive took a break from his recovery and down exclusively to talk with necn Friday.
Ryan Hickey was outside his cruiser when he was hit by a passing car last weekend.
He is still in a lot of pain, his arm is in a sling, and he can only walk with the help of a cane on one side and his fiance on the other. But he says the past few days have put his whole life in perspective.
"It makes me appreciate what I have, and what I've been given," Hickey said Friday afternoon.
These days, breaks come a bit more often, and his footsteps might seem fragile, but Hickey is stronger right now than ever before.
"Just to have him walking is - it's incredible," said his fiance, Paige Minotti, who has been by his side since the crash.
At 2:30 a.m. Sunday, Hickey was outside his cruiser assisting Trooper Jake Wood in a traffic stop on the Everett Turnpike in Merrimack.
"I never heard the car, never saw the headlights, there was no warning," he said. "It just happened, you could hear the sounds and I could feel the pain."
He had been hit by a passing SUV.
"Getting the phone call saying that he's hit by a car, you just think he is never going to walk again," Minotti recalled.
Hickey's equipment was thrown off his body. His radio was disconnected and he laid there on the pavement, yelling to Trooper Wood.
"I was helpless," Hickey said. "I owe him a lot. I don't even know if we'd be having this conversation if Jake wasn't there."
After three days in the hospital, Hickey was released just in time to walk himself into Merrimack District Court to face the man who allegedly ran him over.
When asked whether he feels lucky to be alive, Trooper Hickey responded immediately, "Oh, absolutely. I say it all the time. It was a matter of inches."
Despite the dangers that come with this job, Hickey says he was born to protect and serve.
"I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself," he said.
And as he works toward that greater good, Hickey is asking people to remember.
"We are sons, we are daughters, we are fathers, we are mothers," he said about his fellow troopers. "At the end of the day, our goal is just to go home."
So, on this holiday weekend, as you head out to visit your families, think of Minotti, who will always be anxiously waiting for her fiance to walk through the door in time for dinner.
"When you see them on the side of the road, you just see the badge, but there is so much more," she said. "Just move over and give them some space, because we want them home."
When necn asked Trooper Hickey what was going through his mind in that moment after he was hit, he said, "making sure everyone else was OK."
And that, he says, is what it means to be a New Hampshire State Trooper.