Kralicek down, but never out
| April 16, 2010 9:00 PM
On a rainy April morning last week I was once again reminded of the sacrifice made by a fellow police officer. As I walked into his hospital room at Kootenai Medical Center, I saw the smiling face and resolve I have come to expect. Officer Mike Kralicek was sitting up in bed attempting to eat his raspberry Jell-O. He had made an admirable effort but was wearing most of it on his hospital gown. We shared a laugh about it and then moved on to other topics. Today was a better day for him, but he had suffered the previous three days from severe flu-like symptoms.
Chief Longo arrived to see Mike and helped him work the television remote control. Mike was in good spirits and as always, cracking jokes. Seeing him in that bed took me back to Dec. 27, 2004.
On that date at 9:11 p.m., Officer Mike Kralicek was in the garage area of a residence in the 1300 block of Starling Avenue. He was assisting Kootenai County deputies in a follow-up investigation of a theft, and a malicious injury to property.
Our society has too often come to realize that police work always involves personal risk and is highly unpredictable. On this night the suspect obtained a weapon and opened fire on the officers. All of the officers involved found themselves in a life or death circumstance. Michael Madonna fired several rounds at the officers. One of the bullets traveled through the garage wall and struck Officer Mike Kralicek in the neck. The injury rendered Mike Kralicek near death, and abruptly changed the course of his life forever.
Officers returned fire and shot Michael Madonna. He died at the scene. He left behind a grieving family that had to come to terms with his actions. Those actions resulted in the loss of his life and a lifetime of severe disability for Mike Kralicek.
Families always suffer the most when dealing with senseless acts of violence. Mike Kralicek's wife, Carrie, and his two daughters, Amanda and Alexis, have been by his side through the darkest hours. It has been a long, exhausting journey for his loved ones as they continue to help him rehabilitate as much as his body will allow.
Carrie lovingly refers to him as a "Walking Quad." His injury was so severe it is remarkable that he is able to walk again. Mentally Mike is as strong as he was before the shooting. However, he still suffers from paralysis on his right side making his movement slow and deliberate. Mike possesses the sheer determination to improve his odds. He visits the gym regularly to focus on regaining strength.
The shooting of Officer Kralicek sent shock waves through our quiet community. It also shattered the innocence of a police department that had never before dealt with an officer shot in the line of duty. This community rallied around us and prayed for Mike.
The Coeur d'Alene Fire Department and Women in Business as well as many other dedicated businesses and individuals stood beside us through the lowest moments. They worked furiously to hold a fundraiser for Mike and his family. The money raised helped pay for the many months his family had to live in Seattle and Colorado as Mike went through painful surgeries and rehabilitation.
The severe injuries he sustained that night left him vulnerable to infection, colds and flu, but as he sat in his hospital bed last week he kept up the good fight.
Mike and Carrie created a new chapter in their life born out of tragedy. They travel throughout the United States as inspirational speakers. Mike speaks to young officers about the dangers and realities of the job. Carrie shares the perspective of a family that has had to deal with hardship. Yet with all of their personal sacrifice, they continue to speak proudly about the profession of law enforcement, and their love for it.
Officer Mike Kralicek is retired due to his injuries, but the members of the Coeur d'Alene Police Department will always consider him as "one of our own." We proudly support him in all of his new endeavors. Get well soon Mike and God Bless the peacemakers.
Sgt. Christie Wood is spokesperson for the Coeur d'Alene Police Department.