Eventually Justin and his family would find themselves at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, AZ. After a consultation with a team of doctors, Justin was told that there was a possibility to correct the problems with surgery, with a real risk that he may never walk, talk, or swallow normally again. A decision not to have the surgery would leave Justin with a life expectancy of 6 months to 5 years.
Justin and his family made the decision to go ahead with the surgery and Dr. Volker Sontag and his medical team would perform 2 surgeries, each lasting 8 hours, to correct the problem. Justin would spend 18 days in ICU and another 2 months in the hospital recovering. Justin overcame the odds and not only walked and talked, he went on to accomplish and complete several life goals.
In 2001 Justin would graduate from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Science. In January of 2003 the Gainesville Police Department hired Justin and sponsored him through the police academy . A few months later, Justin was patrolling the streets of Gainesville, FL.
In his spare time, Justin worked relentlessly on completing his flight ratings in commercial single engine, multi-engine, instrument for fixed wing, commercial rotorcraft and instrument for helicopter. Justin would become one of the full time helicopter pilots for the Gainesville Police Department and Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, Joint Aviation unit (“Air 1”) watching over his fellow men and women in blue and green. In October 2013, Justin married his sweetheart, Heaven Dawn and they have a son, Jax.
On January 7, 2015 while attempting to land at an off airport site in Panama City, FL, the double vision returned and during flight Justin lost all depth perception making landing impossible. Justin handed off the controls to his co-pilot to make the landing. The following day, Justin went to an ophthalmologist and the doctor told him that he needed a neurological consult immediately. Another MRI was done Shands at UF. It was confirmed that Justin’s vision issues were again related to Arnold Chiari Malformation and that surgical intervention was needed. Top neurologists at Shands at UF were consulted, and it was decided that it was best if Justin returned to Phoenix for treatment.
Once in Phoenix, it was determined that another surgery could be done, although riskier and more difficult than the first surgery 20 years ago. He was told that his career both as a GPD officer and a helicopter pilot may be over.
This fund was created by Justin’s friends to support the costs related to the extended stay in Arizona, and as Justin will soon run out of vacation hours at the Gainesville Police Department, to supplement the possible loss of income.
Please help Justin’s family focus only on the treatment, so that he may return to our Gainesville skies.
Your help is truly appreciated!
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