Helicopter pilot making strides after crash

A Gwinnett County police officer paralyzed in a helicopter crash last month is making real progress at his recovery.

Cpl. Michael Duncan has been at the Shepherd Center since shortly after the Sept. 1 crash. He and his co-pilot Officer George McLain had been helping fellow officers search for a suspect when approaching weather forced them back to Briscoe Field.

The helicopter crashed before they could land, pinning Duncan inside. He was left paralyzed from the waist down.

“It’s just a speed hump and once I get over it, I’m off to the races,” he tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.

Duncan’s spinal cord was not severed but severely damaged. The police veteran and former Marine has maintained a positive attitude despite his circumstances.

“If this is the worst-case scenario… me never walking again, okay. I will do what I have to do. If I get feeling back, then that’s a huge bonus,” he says.

Duncan knows the outcome could have been much worse. He credits McLain, who suffered less severe injuries, for preventing the helicopter from crashing into the hanger where fuel tanks could have exploded.

They were on their second attempt at landing when a gust of wind put them in a tail spin.

“He was making calls to the tower and I was holding on and we crashed. And then the tail boom snapped off putting us over on my side,” he says.

Duncan hopes to be finished with rehab by Christmas with an eye on returning to the police force in some capacity and even one day flying again.

Money is being raised to renovate the family’s home in Oconee County to make it wheelchair accessible.

He appreciates all the support he has received so far from the community, his police family, and people he has never met, saying it motivates him to work even harder.

“I don’t want to let these people down,” he says.

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