‘He’s got that fight in him’: Paralyzed trooper welcomed home in Gaston County two years after devastating crash

Trooper Wooten, a 14-year North Carolina State Highway Patrol veteran, was involved in a July 22, 2019 motorcycle crash as he was pursuing a suspect.
Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 1:56 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 23, 2021 at 5:32 PM EST
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CRAMERTON, N.C. (WBTV) - North Carolina State Trooper Christopher L. Wooten was welcomed home by supporters in Gaston County, two years after a devastating crash left him paralyzed.

Trooper Wooten spent many months in rehabilitation and recovery since his injuries suffered in July 2019, but returned home to Cramerton on Tuesday, Nov. 23 to a newly-redesigned home to meet his current physical needs.

“Chris and the entire Wooten family have been a blessing to so many these past years and we are humbled to help him return home to North Carolina with a fitting reception,” said Colonel Freddy L. Johnson Jr., Commander of the State Highway Patrol. “To see friends, family and strangers that were moved by his story come together in support is a testament to the spirit the Wooten family have exuded.”

Law enforcement officers from across the area escorted the Wooten family as they make the journey from Atlanta, Georgia to Cramerton. A special reception along the planned route took place once they arrived.

“It hasn’t been an easy road, it’s been one with ups and downs for his family, friends and the community, but it’s been a positive one,” NCSHP Master Trooper Ray Pierce told WBTV on Tuesday.

Trooper Pierce said his positivity is unmatched. He also said today is a day they were not sure would ever come.

“Back in July of 2019 when this accident took place it was not hard to think of the worst that was going to come,” he said. “We did not even think that he would survive, and here we are less than two and a half years later and he’s coming home.”

His longtime friend Kaye Lackey organized the welcome home event complete with signs, flags and blue lights adorning the houses in Cramerton.

“Even though this was a tragic accident, this has just made them stronger and more thankful, and has just really inspired them in such a way that I don’t even know if they knew it was in them,” Lackey said. “It’s brought out the best of them, and they were already pretty good to start with.”

Sandra Laine made the drive to Cramerton from Albemarle, where the Wootens used to be her neighbors.

“I want him to know that I’m glad he’s here with us and that I appreciate him and I appreciate everything all the firemen, the EMS, the police officers do for us,” Laine told WBTV.

Friends, loved ones and total strangers gathered to support him Tuesday and support him on the road that lays ahead.

“If anybody could make it through this, he could because he’s got that fight in him,” Laine said.

Trooper Wooten, a 14-year North Carolina State Highway Patrol veteran, was involved in a July 22, 2019 motorcycle crash as he was pursuing a suspect. Trooper Wooten was left paralyzed and hospitalized for months.

Officials say Wooten, who was on a motorcycle, was trying to stop a vehicle when he collided with a second vehicle. The first vehicle that he was trying to pull over kept going and did not remain at the scene.

The crash left Trooper Wooten paralyzed from the neck down, and he stayed in the hospital for months. In Feb. 2020, Trooper Wooten was released from a Georgia hospital and moved to an apartment.

In Nov. 2020, North Carolina State Highway Patrol officials shared that Trooper Wooten was ordained as a minister and was able to perform a wedding ceremony for his daughter.

In June 2021, Trooper Wooten was designated as an Honorary State Trooper by the Georgia State Patrol.

Earlier this year, Trooper Wooten and his wife Sharon were advised that their home renovations in Cramerton, North Carolina may be complete by Aug. 31 so Chris could move back home.

The NCSHP shared a heartfelt Facebook post about Trooper Wooten.

“Chris is a true warrior who has exemplified the meaning of resiliency throughout this entire recovery process. We would be remiss to not recognize the vital role Sharon has played throughout this journey. Her selfless dedication to being Chris’s caretaker and loving wife has been unwavering. Sharon has done such a great job that they were able to get approval to not have a day nurse for Chris and are currently awaiting approval for Sharon to be his caretaker on a full-time basis! I encourage everyone to continue to pray for the Wooten family and keep Chris in your thoughts as he navigates these trying pathways toward healing and recuperation,” the Facebook post, written by Colonel Freddy L. Johnson, Jr., read.

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