Hoppers for Heroes provides TerrainHopper off-road mobility devices to mobility-challenged veterans, first responders and other everyday heroes. With a ground clearance of nearly 10 inches and a 35-degree climbing capability, TerrainHopper vehicles are engineered to conquer deep mud, soft beach sand, snow, rocks, steep hills, and many other obstacles. Today, Hoppers for Heroes and Axon honored Officer Bill Weigt, who will be receiving a TerrainHopper vehicle in a couple of months.
“Don’t stop, don’t quit.” Those were the words coming out of Drill Sgt. Griffin’s mouth in the back of a Peoria ambulance as Officer Bill Weigt was whisked towards the ER. Weigt was fading fast, drifting in and out of consciousness due to a bullet lodged in his spine.
Weigt could hear the firefighters as they helped load him into the ambulance. Entry wound, but no exit wound. In that moment Weigt knew he was paralyzed. The bullet had entered his chest, hit a rib, and ricocheted to his spine.
Peoria PD is a small department. On December 17, 2005, there were 7 officers working the graveyard shift. One officer had the night off, but decided to come in anyways. That officer was Bill Weigt. A call for service came in for a drug deal gone bad. The call came in at 4:20am and involved, ironically, a dispute over a bag of weed. Officer Weigt and 5 of the other 6 officers on call were dispatched.
Despite the ironic nature of the call, when Weigt arrived the situation that unfolded was anything but funny. The suspects attempted to outrun the officers in their car but blew a tire, and when Peoria officers advanced on the vehicle gunshots began to ring out. Officer Weigt couldn’t get to his shotgun, so he moved to a different position, when all of a sudden he was shot.
“Don’t stop, don’t quit.” It took a while to recover Officer Weigt from the scene due to ongoing gunfire. Weigt had six heroes that night. Officers Jeremy Cooper and Jason Smith moved into the line of fire to pull him out. Deputy Christian, a Maricopa County Sheriff’s Deputy who witnessed the call on his way to work, had Officers Cooper and Smith load Weigt into his truck. Christian drove Officer Weigt as far out of the “hot zone” as he could, and finally firefighters were able to load Weigt into an ambulance. Officers Carpenter, Dugan and Borsche also played a key part in Weigt’s survival.
Before joining Peoria PD, Weigt was in the US Army Infantry for 3 years from 1993-1996. While in the Army, Bill’s Drill Sergeant was Sgt. Griffin, a tough but fair Sgt. from Georgia. During training, officers had to go into gas chambers, where Sgt. Griffin would make them recite their name, rank, social security number, and other personal info before they could leave.
“Don’t stop, don’t quit.” Sgt. Griffin was commanding Weigt, pushing him to work through his injuries. Suddenly, Sgt. Griffin disappeared and was replaced by Sgt. John White, who trained Weigt during his first week of infantry training. Sgt. White was now in the back of the ambulance, grabbing Bill and telling him to get up and get his ass in the fight. Weigt begins to struggle and trying to stand up despite his injuries. Finally, the ambulance arrived to the ER. As the doors swung open, Weigt was greeted by a bright white light and a short, Puerto Rican doctor. Weigt stopped struggling and turned to the doctor. “Am I done? Am I done now?”
Weigt was indeed done. He had survived the gunshot, the trip to the ER, and would wake up from a coma 3 days later, on December 20th, his 31st birthday. He was paralyzed, but alive. And over the next 16 years, he would continue his service for Peoria PD, although not in the field, but as an investigator.
Axon is a proud sponsor of Hoppers for Heroes, who today officially announced that Investigator Weigt will be receiving a TerrainHopper vehicle to increase his mobility. Investigator Weigt’s bravery and heroism make him a perfect candidate for the Hoppers for Heroes program.
Axon is a network of devices, apps and people that helps public safety personnel become smarter and safer. With a mission of protecting life, our technologies give customers the confidence, focus and time they need to keep their communities safe. Our products impact every aspect of a public safety officer's day-to-day experience with the goal of helping everyone get home safe.