ROSS TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- Police Chief Darryl Haussler is "emotionally and spiritually a giant" on the level of the biblical Job, according to Pastor David Vaughan of Whitewater Crossing Christian Church.
Haussler, whom colleagues described as a kind-hearted longtime veteran of local police forces, was diagnosed with the little-known but debilitating autoimmune disease scleroderma in 2016. The incurable condition forced him to spend hours each week in bed, on dialysis and enduring the "constant day-to-day pain and discomfort" of feeling his body's tissue slowly stiffen into a state of near-petrification.
On Aug. 19, his situation became even more dire. A crash totaled his family's car and nearly their bodies as well -- emergency responders found him with teeth knocked out, vertebrae fractured and nose broken; his wife, Debbie Haussler, was concussed and her brain was bleeding.
"My head was on one airbag and I saw the other airbag in front of me, and I looked up and I saw like the shattered windshield … and then I thought, 'Oh my gosh, Darryl,'" she said.
"Everyone we show that picture to has said, 'There's no way you should have survived that crash,'" he added.
But he did. So did she. And Tuesday night, Pastor Vaughan presented them with a replacement car donated to the Crossroads Wheels program.
"May this vehicle be a new beginning for you," Vaughan said.
Haussler hopes it will be. Although his condition is incurable, he said he hoped to return to work in Ross Township soon -- even if just for a few days a week. His new car should help him get there.