STAMFORD -- The Stamford police officer critically injured in a 20-foot fall from an Interstate 95 bridge abutment while chasing a robbery suspect in Norwalk early Thursday morning, continued to be listed in critical condition, but was showing encouraging signs of progress, according to officials.
Mayor Michael Pavia visited Officer Troy Strauser at Norwalk Hospital around noon Friday and said he was sitting up in bed and talking following a seven-and-a-half hour operation Thursday night. Strauser's injured arm was heavily bandaged and worn in a sling, and his face and nose were badly bruised, Pavia said.
"I thanked him for his service above and beyond," Pavia said Friday. "I also let him know how delighted I was to be talking to him and see the progress that he's made in a day. He is very respectful and a very good Stamford police officer. Just talking to him I felt proud."
Strauser suffered severe injuries to his face and right arm after falling onto a metal guardrail as he chased a 30-year-old Stratford man suspected of beating and robbing a Hispanic man at the corner of West Main and Diaz streets on the city's West Side shortly after 1 a.m. Thursday.
Strauser spotted a white BMW matching the suspect vehicle's description on West Main Street and pursued it as the driver, Frank Douglas, tried to evade, police said.
After chasing the car through Darien and into Norwalk, police rammed the car at the end of Exit 14 in Norwalk, and Strauser chased after Douglas who fled on foot toward Connecticut Avenue across the Fairfield Avenue bridge over I-95.
At the other side of the bridge, Douglas made a sharp left turn and ran across the bridge abutment to the level of the highway below. But because of some underbrush, Strauser didn't see the drop while running full speed toward Douglas, police said.
Strauser, 38, was immediately transported by police to Norwalk Hospital where he has undergone three emergency surgeries.
Pavia, who said he went by to see the I-95 bridge where Strauser fell, said the officer was in "good spirits" and surrounded by friends and family. A steady stream of police officers have been visiting him since Thursday.
"I know it was touch and go in the beginning," Pavia said. "When his accident first occurred everybody was extremely concerned. I was just delighted to see his condition and proud to be with him."
Strauser, of Fairfield, has three young children and has been a member of the Stamford police force for the past six years.
Following an arraignment hearing for Douglas, Stamford police Sgt. Joseph Kennedy, president of the Stamford police union, stood with dozens of city police officers outside the courthouse on Friday afternoon and said he felt encouraged that Strauser successfully underwent three surgeries over the past 18 hours.
Still, he called the injuries "horrific," and said Strauser needs to ward off infections from internal injuries during the next three days.
"These are the brother and sister officers of Troy Strauser," Kennedy said, moments after Douglas was arraigned on a litany of charges from the incident. "He's a friend and he's a family man. He's one of us."
Kennedy said the police force felt frustrated over Strauser's injuries, adding that he does foresee him returning to the department some day. Kennedy said he could not provide more information about Strauser's medical condition.
"I see him back on the job, but I just don't have the expertise," Kennedy said. "I'd be non-qualified to tell about his recovery time."