Just across the Mississippi river in Belleville, IL Sgt. Jon Brough was shot in the face with a shotgun last week. He will never see or smell again. Please pray for him and his family. It's awful.
After shooting last week, Belleville officer will never see or smell again
By Doug Moore
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
While Dr. Aaron Scifres, SLUCare trauma surgeon updates the press on the condition of Belleville Police Sgt. Jon Brough, his wife Wendy Brough and sons from right to left, Jon Jr, 23, and Paul,20, feel the meaning of his words.
Belleville police Sgt. Jon Brough will not see or smell again after a shotgun blast to the face last week. It took doctors 12 hours to stop the severe bleeding that nearly took his life. Despite months, even years, of reconstructive surgery, he will never look the same.
The grim details of Brough's condition were laid out Thursday afternoon by doctors at St. Louis University Hospital, where Brough has been cared for since a police shootout with a suspected killer a week ago today in downtown Belleville.
As doctors went over Brough's injuries, the police sergeant's wife and two sons stood nearby. Wendy Brough's voice cracked, but she remained composed as she described getting the news of her husband's critical injuries.
"Imagine one day a loved one being ripped out from under you. You don't know if he's going to live or die," she said. "Multiply that by 10. That's how I feel." Advertisement
Brough, 48, was part of the department's rifle team called to a house on South First Street where Larry J. Sicka was holed up inside. Police say that the night before, Sicka fatally stabbed his in-laws, Henry and Dolores Kahle, at their Swansea home. The killings were to get back at his wife for leaving him and filing for divorce, his attorney has said.
As Brough and other officers stormed the house, Brough was shot in the face at close range from inside.
After a short stop at nearby St. Elizabeth's Hospital, he was flown to St. Louis University, where surgeons struggled to stop the massive bleeding. Metal coils were inserted into two main arteries in his face to finally stop the bleeding.
"The injuries could have very well been fatal," said Dr. Aaron Scifres, a trauma surgeon. But the prognosis for pulling through is very good, he said.
"It's extremely unlikely that he will die," Scifres said.
As Scifres and Dr. Mark Varvares described Brough's injuries, Wendy Brough, a nurse, clutched the hand of her son, Paul, 20. Jon Jr. 23, stood behind his mother. Her sons stood with her in silence.
Brough, a 22-year veteran of the Belleville Police Department, is unconscious, breathing with the help of a ventilator and has a feeding tube inserted in his stomach. It will be several weeks before he can eat on his own or before doctors can upgrade his condition from critical.
Doctors have not been able to communicate with him. His eye sockets are severely damaged. His nose and other parts of his face will have to be reconstructed, using his lower and upper jaw as a base to build on, said Varvares, a head and neck surgeon.
His jaws have been wired together, but the doctors said it appears Brough will be able to talk again. His hearing seems unaffected.
A CAT scan showed bruising and a small amount of bleeding around the brain.
"There is some degree of brain injury from the blast," Scifres said. But how much has not yet been determined, he said.
"His recovery will be measured in months and years," Scifres said. It will be several weeks before reconstructive surgery can begin, and then it will be a series of trips to the operating room, Varvares said.
Even then, he added, "He's not going to look normal."
Scifres said Brough's mindset will play a key role in his recovery.
"He'll be a large part of his recovery."
Wendy Brough said an outpouring of support has helped pull her through the past week.
"I am comforted by my family and friends — old friends, new friends and those friends I have yet to meet," she said. "Most of all I am grateful for Jon. He is a wonderful husband, father and friend."