It’s a merry Christmas for Jim Crowley. The former Chicago police officer is home.
Now 54, Crowley was 22 in 1987 when a drunk driver hit his squad car, leaving him with traumatic brain injuries. The accident also killed veteran Chicago police officer William Morrison.
Crowley, who uses a wheelchair and needs help with every aspect of his life, has resided in specialized care facilities at several locations around the country since then, most recently in Texas.
His younger sister, Beth Carter, made it a point to visit him every Christmas, but always made the trip a few days early so she could return home to Chicago to be with her young children for the actual day.
But this year, she made it her mission to bring him home.
“I raised over $7,400 on a GoFundMe account, flew to Austin, Texas, rented an RV and I drove 22 hours to bring my brother home,” she said Monday night at Barraco’s restaurant in Mount Greenwood, the South Side neighborhood where police officers, friends and family gathered to greet Crowley with cheers.
“We’re glad to see you. You’re home, and not forgotten,” said Commander Rick Wiser, who heads up the Morgan Park police district.
“I feel like someone special,” Crowley, whose speech is limited, said.
Carter, Crowley’s only sibling, choked up while describing how she became a nurse after the accident to help guide his care.
“I’m his legal guardian, his sister, and his only connection to the family. My father died a year after Jim’s accident and my mom is physically disabled and unable to participate in caring for him,” she said.
About three months ago, Carter made it her mission to bring Crowley home for Christmas. He hadn’t been in Chicago since 2003.
“I really wanted to get him home this Christmas and have him experience having my family around him for Christmas because, honestly, he didn’t sign up for this accident. It happened to him and took away everything, and I wanted to give him some semblance of what Christmas and family and loved ones really feel like all around him,” she said.
“So if I had to walk down I-35, he was coming home.”
The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation helped organize the journey.
“The foundation is just a constant reminder that you’re never forgotten and that’s huge, that’s cathartic, that’s healing,” she said.
Crowley will return to the facility he is staying at in San Marcos, Texas, on Friday. His sister said she is hoping he will be able to transfer to a home in the Chicago area in the near future.