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Police Chief has Arm Blown Off, Being Blocked From Return To Work

Chief Michael Diebold was medically cleared to return to work, but has instead been placed on unpaid leave.

Leechburg, PA – Less than six months after he lost his arm in a fireworks accident, Leechburg Police Chief Michael Diebold was looking forward to returning to full duty on Monday.

“I was ready to go to work today at 3 p.m.,” Chief Diebold told KDKA.

But instead, he said Leechburg Mayor Wayne Dobos called and told him he had been placed on unpaid leave.

Chief Diebold’s struggle began on June 24, when he was setting off fireworks for the Leechburg Firemen’s Carnival display, KDKA reported.

When of the fireworks detonated on the ground in front of him, the explosion blew apart a portion of his left arm.

Today, with the help of a prosthetic arm, Chief Diebold said he is perfectly capable of returning to work.

Throughout his recovery, Chief Diebold said he always intended to return to his position with the Leechburg Police Department (LPD), and that the mayor and town council had promised him his job would be waiting.

“Full motion, I can do anything. Fight somebody off, grab a hold of somebody,” Chief Diebold said. “There’s nothing physically now that I cannot do that I could not do before the accident.”

His doctors provided him with documentation of his medical clearance, and Chief Diebold has already completed his firearms recertification.

Chief Diebold said the mayor only told him that there are “legal concerns,” and that he cannot return to work until those concerns are addressed.

“Nobody will give me any explanation, any documentation, any reason,” he said. “How would you like it if your life is ripped out from under you, and you don’t know what your future holds? Especially when you’re trying to have a Christmas for your kids? You don’t know financially what you can and can’t do now.”

“I can honestly say this is the most despicable thing that’s ever happened to me in my life,” Chief Diebold said. “The way this hit, it’s almost like I got my other arm torn off again.”

Chief Diebold said he will file a lawsuit if he doesn’t receive answers soon.

According to KDKA, Dobos refused to discuss the police chief’s job status.

“Myself and all of the town council wish the chief a speedy return. It’s now in the hands of our lawyers,” Dobos said.

HollyMatkin - December Tue, 2017

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