by Carrie Adams
On a cold January evening in 2010, twenty-six year old Gerald Veneziano got in his car at home in Clifton, NJ heading for his night shift with the Fairfield Police Department. He noticed a car pull in behind him and follow his vehicle for over 15 minutes. He called into the station to have the car pulled over but no one was in proximity so in an empty parking lot, the brave man identified himself as a police officer to his follower. Before he could react, the suspect pulled out a handgun and began to fire. Taking bullets Veneziano exited his car to seek cover. Three shots ripped into his leg crushing his femur and tearing a major artery wide open. Another shattered his jaw and broke off several teeth leaving him unable to speak. He somehow managed to return fire but multiple gunshots later, Veneziano lay alone in the abandoned parking lot bleeding out from the torn artery in his leg.
His car had rolled away in the fire fight forcing him to seek help despite his horrific injuries. He managed to drag himself 40 yards to the street where a bystander called 911. He was airlifted to the hosptial where his his life was saved and a drug-induced coma was necessary to let his injuries heal. A year and a half later, with five major surgeries and months of rehab behind him he just recently returned to active duty. The man accused of shooting him was apprehended a month and a half after the incident later in an unrelated incident involving what is reported to the the same handgun used in Veneziano’s case and now sits in a mental hospital awaiting a trial. To date, he’s never admitted committing the crime or given a reason.
For Veneziano, the damage is lasting. He will always have nerve damage and he has a rod in his femur to hold it together and screws and a plate in his jaw. Doctors said he lost so much blood that he should’t be here. In fact, the cold temperatures may have helped save his life. Doctors speculate that the 15 degree weather slowed blood loss possibly preventing his death.
Overcoming obstacles has been the theme of Veneziano’s life for a year and a half. He knows what hard work can accomplish alongside the support and encouragement of family and friends. He wants others to know what that feels like. On September 24th and 25th The Spartan Race will head to Staten Island for an eight mile obstacle race of running, jumping, climbing and crawling, and Veneziano will be in the audience. Unable to participate in this year’s event he looks forward to future races.
He says, “I wish I could do it! It sounds like fun – especially if people from work do it together and build comraderie.”
A special Law Enforcement Challenge has been added to the Staten Island race to which Spartan Race will be donating funds on participating Law Enforcement team’s behalf. Veneziano is encouraging his co-workers to get signed up for the challenging race saying, “You’d be surprised what your body can do. When I got shot I had to crawl to the road with a broken leg. As far as long term, I keep working at it. That kind of hard work will get you far.”