MERIDIAN, Idaho – Two weeks ago, retired Coeur d’Alene police Officer Mike Kralicek lost his best friend, killed in the line of duty while serving in Oregon.
“Then we got the call in the morning, when Greg was shot,” he said – Coeur d’Alene police Sgt. Greg Moore, a friend and fellow officer who was fatally shot while patrolling a quiet Coeur d’Alene neighborhood.
Kralicek prayed. “I wanted him to live, but I didn’t want him to suffer,” he said.
He knows suffering. Just over 10 years ago, he was shot by a fleeing suspect and survived grievous injuries that left him permanently disabled.
Kralicek was the keynote speaker for the annual Idaho Peace Officers Memorial ceremony on Thursday, which was even more solemn than usual, coming on the heels of Moore’s death. Seventy names are engraved on a wall of honor at the state memorial, commemorating fallen Idaho officers; next year, the name of Moore, who was remembered with a special tribute at the ceremony, will be among them.
“After I was shot, I immediately went unconscious, went into a coma for about three weeks,” Kralicek told a crowd of several hundred at the memorial, including uniformed officers from around the state and their families. “I woke up later in the hospital as a full quadriplegic. So I spent the last 10 years learning how to walk, talk, breathe, everything, all over again. Also learning how to let other people take care of me and help me, and not taking care of other people, which is what all the people on that wall were doing when they passed – they were taking care of other people. That’s what we do.”
He said, “No one knows exactly how or why I am still here today, rather than being a permanent name on that wall with all the others. … For about six months, I was on and off – I died several times. Eventually, I landed on this side of the fence.”
“I believe it’s for times like today, when I can stand up in front of a group of people, be a voice for the departed and speak for the people that no longer can,” he said.
Kralicek urged people to remember the families and survivors of fallen officers and the burden they carry forever after. “Remember the survivors, and the trail of broken hearts and fallen tears that go along with each and every name on that wall,” he said.
Kralicek’s wife, Carrie, has been by his side throughout his ordeal, and she joined him on stage at the ceremony Thursday.
Kralicek said after he was shot in 2004, he fought hard to recover. “I really wanted to go back to work and be a cop,” he said. But at that point he was still in a wheelchair and required 24/7 care, so he finally realized it wouldn’t work.
At Carrie’s suggestion, he went to real estate school, studied and passed the exams, and the two worked as real estate agents for about six months. Kralicek said it was reassuring that he could learn the material and pass the tests – it showed him he was still OK mentally. He’s now a motivational speaker.
After fighting for every improvement in his capabilities, Kralicek said he’s doing well but no longer improving.
“Please support and pray for our officers that are still working and the survivors that have lost someone, recently or anywhere in the past,” he said. “A lot of people get forgotten about. It’s nice to be remembered.”
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