For the first time, we're hearing from the family of the Gwinnett County police officer hurt in a terrible helicopter crash last month.
Corporal Michael Duncan is paralyzed from the waist down as a result of the crash, but his family told 11Alive's Kaitlyn Ross that it is not slowing him down.
They said that with his injury, he is going to need a lot of help.
The family didn't realize just how bad the crash was at first because Duncan was alert and talking after the chopper went down. But he had to be extracted after the crash. He's now in heavy rehabilitation at the Shepard Center in Atlanta.
While his family is holding out hope he may walk again one day, they said that, for now, they need to face the reality that he's going to be in a wheelchair and they'll need to retrofit their entire house to accommodate it.
Duncan fractured a vertebra in his back in the devastating Sept. 1 crash. He and another pilot were assisting the Gwinnett County SWAT team in a search for a missing person -- a mission Duncan believed in as an 8-year member of the SWAT team.
His wife, Laura, said she was relieved when he started flying helicopters 2 years ago.
"I really thought we were moving past some of the more dangerous parts of his career," she said. "I really thought the helicopter thing was safer. I slept a lot easier."
Duncan grew up a football player, then served 4 years in the Marines before becoming a sniper with the Gwinnett SWAT team. His sister Melissa said he's always made them proud.
"He is a hero in our family," she said.
She said the first thing he asked when he got out of surgery was when he could go be a cop again.
"Of course, now if he had his wishes, the first thing he would do is go fly a helicopter again," Melissa said.
Duncan is recovering at the Shepard Center in Atlanta now, and while he is still in a lot of pain, Laura said she knows he will pull through.
"He will be fine," she said. "It just may be a new definition of what fine looks like."
The family lives on a farm with narrow doors and hallways, no downstairs bathroom or bedroom -- and stairs everywhere.
Laura said that because he's always served his community and has been such a leader, accepting the help offered to him has been the hardest part.
"The biggest thing is getting him to be independent again," Laura said. "We talked a little bit about what he might want his life to look like after the injury. Obviously, he would love to come back and do what he was doing -- but we know that may not be a possibility."
A fundraising page has been set up to help the Duncan family. Click here for information on how to donate.
Following the crash, and as the officers continue to heal, their fellow officers with the Gwinnett County Police Foundation will host a Golf Tournament on Oct. 2 at Chateau Elan.
For information about the event, register and donate visit http://gwinnettpolicefoundation.com/.