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Todd Young's Long Road Back

Shot on an Oakland street, Fremont police officer Todd Young endures numerous surgeries and continuous rehab to regain his status as a gang investigator and SWAT officer.

June 13, 2012  |  by - Also by this author

Officer Young received emergency medical care at Highland Hospital. Photo: iStockPhoto.com
Officer Young received emergency medical care at Highland Hospital. Photo: iStockPhoto.com

Editor's note: This is the second installment of PoliceMag's "Returning To Duty" Web-only series about the challenges officers face getting back to police work after sustaining injuries on the job. Read the first installment here.

The trauma team that loaded Fremont (Calif.) Police Officer Todd Young onto a gurney at Oakland's Highland Hospital didn't initially realize just how close the lawman—who had suffered a critical gunshot wound—was to death on that warm, August Friday.

The 39-year-old Young was in SWAT shape, and had trained his body to fight through adversity and mask the trauma he suffered.

Young had been working undercover earlier that day in one of Oakland's most violent neighborhoods. He wore a T-shirt and jeans with his badge hanging around his neck and carried a .45-caliber SIG Sauer 220 pistol in a drop-leg holster. Shortly after 2:30 p.m., a gang member shot Young during a foot pursuit.

When Young arrived at the hospital, his vitals didn't raise undue concern, 160-over-100 for blood pressure and a heart rate of 85 beats per minute. Because his heart rate was so slow for the conditions, doctors believed he hadn’t lost a lot of blood. For most trauma patients, a higher heart rate signals blood loss because the heart works harder when the body has less blood.

Young was admitted into the ER where Highland trauma surgeon Dr. Javid Sadjadi decided to send him for a CT scan. His face had grown pale, and the CT image showed a pelvic entry wound and exit wound above his left buttock. The large dark spot on the image showed blood pooling inside his body.

That dark spot was caused by a bullet fragment that pierced Young's iliac artery located deep in his pelvic region. Dr. Sadjadi now knew why the wounded officer was so pale; he was bleeding out. Young was rushed into the operating room. On the way, he called his wife, Nicole, to reassure her.

During the next 51 days, Young would undergo eight surgeries, spend 19 days in a coma, and inspire hundreds of officers to donate blood on his behalf.

Now as he recovers, Young is keeping his eye on the prize. However long it takes, he wants to get back to chasing high-risk bad guys on the gang task force and rejoin his department's SWAT team.

"I'm not going to be a victim, and I'll help other people who can't help themselves," says Young. "I just believe in keeping the public safe. I just believe in actively seeking criminals. That's what I do."

Officer Down

On the afternoon of Aug. 27, 2010, Officer Young and his partner Eric Tang rolled into East Oakland in their surveillance car. As members of the Southern Alameda County Major Crimes Task Force, the officers were looking for Andrew Barrientos, a member of DeCoto 14, a Union City Norteño gang known for its violent threats against law enforcement.

Barrientos, 21 at the time, had threatened to kill his ex-girlfriend and infant son, and Young knew where to find him. A tip led Young to "the nicest house on the block" on Auseon Avenue between Olive and Birch streets. He was told to look for a granite walkway, a rarity in that low-income neighborhood. Young spotted the house, and then spotted Barrientos standing near a black Chevy Avalanche parked at the curb.

Young yelled, "Police! Police!"

Barrientos bolted toward Olive, turned the corner, and began to head up the street. He turned and fired at the pursuing officers with a Glock 9mm he jerked from his waistband.

Barrientos fired 10 rounds, one of which struck Young in the pelvis. The officer replied with seven shots but missed his moving target. Young moved to the sidewalk and kneeled, so he could apply direct pressure to the wound.

Almost immediately, Officers Michael Igualdo and Nancy Cercedes rolled up in their black-and-whites, answering Officer Tang's call for help. Igualdo pulled a first-aid kit from the trunk of his cruiser and began applying QuikClot gauze to Young's wound to accelerate clotting.

Tags: Returning To Duty, Fremont (Calif.) PD, Trauma Care, Oakland PD, Tactical Medicine, Gang Task Force, Nortenos, Gang Enforcement


Comments (21)

Displaying 1 - 21 of 21

Nick @ 6/14/2012 6:21 PM

Simply fantastic, amazing, and inspiring story. Glad he's going to be ok, and with an attitude like that he'll have no issues getting back on SWAT.

Kristine @ 6/18/2012 2:54 PM

Excellent story, and very inspiring. Interesting to hear from all the parties to include the trauma team and doctors that helped. What an inspiring story! Congratulations to him and kudos to Police Mag for telling such an important story.

John @ 6/23/2012 8:47 AM

Our prayers are with him! God willing Todd will be back putting badguys away in the near future.

David @ 6/23/2012 9:26 AM

An inspiring story of dedication to duty and survival. It should serve as a lesson to us all! There are no substitutes for mental and physical toughness and preparedness for the unthinkable! Great job and good Lu k! My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Jack Swenson @ 6/23/2012 10:05 AM

God's blessing Officer Young.

Hope to see you back on the street soon!

Jim Mccaughey @ 6/23/2012 10:14 AM

Todd, welcome back! You give every LEO Inspiration and the Fighting edge that we all strive for.

DonG @ 6/23/2012 10:48 AM

Not only is this inspiring, but it is great that his department stands with him during this period of time. This isn't always the case and I felt personal solace knowing that there are still some great LE organizations out there. My prayers and best wishes are with you and your family, Todd.

Candelyn Carpenter @ 6/23/2012 1:58 PM

Do let them win you have fought to hard to get where you are today to to let them win now. Just in case no one has told you I will. We need more cops like you, I am so thankful that you are going to be okay. Jesus loves you, and I am sure a heck of alot of other people do to. Jesus has a very special place for you when the time comes. However the time is not here. Give 'em hell Todd. Remember God can do a lot more damage than they can. I am so proud of you for taking a stand in something that no body else has the guts to do. Hang in there. We need you. Candelyn Carpenter

John @ 6/23/2012 2:05 PM

God bless you brother!

Welcome back!

You did good bro!

I wasn't there but from what I have read, there was not a single thing I would have done differently!

You can't know when a goblin is going to get froggy and try to get in the wind!

I carry a Colt's 1911 (same capacity as your Sig P220) I carry ten round magazines for reloads....just a thought bro!

God bless!

Most respectfully

john

Dexter @ 6/23/2012 8:11 PM

Winston Churchill said it best....never, never, never, never, never give up! God bless you Todd you are in our prayers.

Sean @ 6/24/2012 12:42 PM

Outstanding drive and determination. You will do it! I'm awe-inspired by your story...

Bob Harrison @ 6/25/2012 12:17 PM

Get well soon...I will remember you in my prayers for complete recovery and back with SWAT....God Bless you Brother........

Bob Harrison @ 6/25/2012 12:19 PM

God Bless you Brother...In my prayers for a complete recovery and back on SWAT soon.....

J. Emerson @ 6/25/2012 1:35 PM

Continue with committment and perserverance, it is the spirit of a Warrior, for a Warrior knows no pain and no job is to tough. Get well soon my brother, you have set the example for all to follow. Peace be with you and your family.

Sincerely,

J. Emerson Garrison

Abel Arriazola @ 6/27/2012 5:51 PM

Young you are a brave and courageous officer who gave full commitment in apprehending a dangerous suspect. In your recovery don't give this punk on second of your time, energy, or mind, instead, focus all you have towards recovery. Be just as aggressive towards your healing process as your were chasing the suspect and God will take care of the rest. Thank you for all you do. You are commendable in every respect. Never give up! Capt. Abel Arriazola

Dusan @ 7/3/2012 10:47 AM

This is great article

Rodney @ 7/4/2012 9:28 PM

May God quicken your recovery and further strengthen your resolve. Hope this quote helps,
"Iron is full of impurities that weaken it; through forging, it becomes steel and is transformed into a razor-sharp sword. Human beings develop in the same fashion." -- Morihei Ueshiba (Founder of Aikido)

Thomas Buchenauer @ 7/15/2012 9:18 PM

Close call......God Bless....and a speedy recovery....

sal @ 7/17/2012 7:34 AM

Keep going big dog, till the wheels fall off.

Shawna @ 7/23/2012 4:58 AM

Hero...never quit. I wish you a full recovery. I know you'll reach your goals!!!!

brian @ 7/31/2012 3:34 PM

Great story

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