PHILADELPHIA (CBS)–On August 4, 2016 Lt. Paul Owens with the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office started his day like any other. By the end, he would be in a coma, and paralyzed from the waist down.
“It’s like every other day. Get dressed, drive to work. Get your assignment, go to your assignment,” explained Owens, speaking to CBS3’s Greg Argos in his first in-depth interview from that day.
Owens entered an elevator in the building and was supposed to go down one floor. Instead, the elevator malfunctioned and rocketed upward.
“I remember holding on and after that I don’t remember anything until I woke up in the hospital,” recalled Owens.
Owens remained in a coma for five weeks. He’s been at home for the past few months and now the family is completely renovating their house to make it ADA compliant. Owens’ wife, Heather, has helped every step of the way.
“I love her and I can’t do it without her. She’s a big part of my life right now,” said Owens.
Owens currently lives in his basement, which has been retro-fitted to accommodate his wheelchair. Every morning he says Heather helps him shower. He then has to exit the garage to enter the main floor via a temporary wheelchair ramp out front.
“I have a shower set up that’s a makeshift shower that you take camping. It gets me clean but I mean I’d like to get in a regular shower like everyone else,” said Owens.
The new renovations should be completed by Thanksgiving, and the family says the goal is to get Paul’s life as back to normal as is possible.
“It kind of hurts that I went to work one day and I got caught up in a bad situation from no fault of my own and look, I’m in the a wheelchair for the rest of my life now.”
Right now, Owens’ attorney, Michael Tinari, says the family has a pending lawsuit against two elevator maintenance companies, Thyssen Krupp and Schindler as well as US Facilities, the property manager for the Criminal Justice Center.