LONE TREE, Colo. (CBS4) – Childhood dreams became reality for Robert Chamberlain when he became a Lone Tree police officer 10 years ago.
“This is what I planned on doing,” he said. “It’s pretty awesome.”
Yet his dream became a nightmare on Nov. 30, 2017, while responding to a call.
“I took off, looked to the left to turn out on Ridgegate Parkway and that’s the last thing I remember,” Chamberlain told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann.
While behind the wheel of his patrol car, he had a severe seizure, causing him to crash. Minutes later, his wife received the heart wrenching call her husband was in the ER.
“I’ve never driven faster in my life,” Shanna Chamberlain said.
When she arrived to the hospital, Shanna said her husband looked like he was dead.
“Standing there with a lot of cops tearing up was impossible for me,” she said.
With five fractured vertebrae, a bruised heart and bleeding on his brain, Chamberlain spent nearly a week in the ICU. He said he has no previous conditions and has never had a seizure before.
“On Nov. 29, the day before, my partner and I got carbon monoxide poisoning,” Chamberlain said, adding they were in one of Lone Tree’s Ford Explorers, a vehicle with a history of carbon monoxide issues.
“One of the doctors said carbon monoxide poisoning can cause seizures like that,” he said.
Nearly three months since the crash, Chamberlain still feels the pain while recovering at home.
“It feels like I’m getting stabbed in the back right now by knives,” he explained.
But the sharpest pain, he and his wife said, came from Lone Tree’s police chief.
“Immediately his chief of police said, ‘The accident wasn’t that severe. We’re not liable for this,’” Shanna said of Chief Kirk Wilson’s visit to the hospital.
Not only was Chamberlain denied workman’s comp, he said he was forced to resign last Wednesday.
“What they said was, ‘Turn in all your stuff. We don’t have anything for you,’” Chamberlain said.
According to a letter from Chief Wilson, Chamberlain exhausted all of his leave time due to the November crash and a previous medical issue earlier that year.
“In this current climate,” the chief wrote, “it is imperative that we remain at full staff in the police department as much as possible. The absence of a full-time police officer for eight months’ time has resulted in the Department being short staffed on shifts, which creates safety concerns for our other officers… We can no longer hold your position vacant.”
With his dream job ripped away, Chamberlain said he is in shock and wondering what else he can do other than the career he loves.
“I put myself out there on the line for 10 years, and I just get booted out the door because I got injured on the job,” he said. “I hope this doesn’t happen to the brothers I worked with.”
The couple has hired an attorney to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against the department.
CBS4 reached out to Lone Tree’s chief for comment and received the following statement:
“The City of Lone Tree is aware of recent allegations being made by former Officer Robert Chamberlain. While the City would like to substantively respond as to what transpired, because this involves a personnel matter the City unfortunately cannot comment further.”
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team as the morning reporter in 2012. After serving as weekend morning anchor, Kelly is now Covering Colorado First for CBS4 News at 10. Connect with Kelly on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @KellyCBS4.