OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Fred Lawson is back home with his family, two months after he was partially paralyzed while trying to tackle a fleeing man.
``It's just great to be able to walk,'' Lawson, 40, said Thursday as he was released from the Valir Rehabilitation Hospital.
He was injured on Jan. 17 after he tried to capture one of 18 men who fled from a traffic stop on Interstate 40 near Yukon. The men, who had been packed into a 1993 Ford Econoline van, bolted when Lawson arrived on the scene.
He said he tried to tackle one of the men who had been hung up on a barbed wire fence south of the highway.
``As I hit him, I lost all feeling,'' Lawson said. ``I just went numb.''
Lawson rolled into a culvert, where he discovered he couldn't talk or move.
``I just started praying,'' he said.
Lawson said he passed out and was unconscious for about 20 minutes before his partner found him in the ditch.
He said he couldn't move when he awoke. His body felt like it was being poked with thousands of needles.
Doctors told Lawson that he experienced partial paralysis because of swelling to his spinal cord, although he still is not sure exactly how he was hurt.
``It was just one of those freak things,'' he said.
Nearly two months of intensive physical therapy and surgery to fuse four vertebrae in his neck allowed Lawson to get back on his feet. Now he is focusing on re-establishing his motor skills and hopes to eventually return to work.
Lawson, who still is in a neck brace, said he hopes to get most of his mobility back as he continues rehabilitation.
Therapists Katy Knight and Gale Largent said Lawson has made remarkable progress in his recovery, but his long-term prognosis remains unclear.