July 5, 2000

Former Bethany Officer faces uncertain future

By Heather Spencer
Staff writer

Bethany - Tim McCarthey isn't sure what to do with his life anymore. Watching educational cable channels, lifting weights and riding his motorcycle consume his days. He's restless. He wants to be doing the thing he loves best: police work. But a collision on July 3, 1999, left him with half of a left leg, an impaired arm and no career. "I had the whole next 20 years planned out, and now it didn't work out the way I thought it would," he said, staring at a television. " I have no idea what I'm going to be doing."

Forever Changed

McCarthey and his fellow Bethany officers received a call that a speeding vehicle was headed their way, even thought the streets were blocked for the holiday festival. The officers were able to get the pedestrians out of the way and stop traffic just before the motorcycle entered the intersection.

McCarthey said the bike narrowly missed two other officers after the driver swerved. He wasn't as lucky. Hollingsworth was charged in Oklahoma County District Court with felony counts of assault and battery with a deadly weapon, maiming, and leaving the scene of an accident. He was also charged with a slew of other traffic violations, including attempting to elude a police officer and reckless driving. He was released on a $100,000 bond and his trial that began earlier this year will resume Sept.. 25.

Not slowing down

McCarthey retired two months ago, even thought he was back on the job in January behind a desk. Desk work isn't his love. He wants to be outside in the sun, getting exercise and interacting with people in the community. "They really didn't have a place for me. I finally had enough. They obviously weren't trying to do anything with me," he said. His last paycheck arrived June 28. A July 19 hearing will determine whether he receives medical retirement, which would help with the bills. His wife, Cassie, 25, is in limbo, as well. Her plans only go to next year. After McCarthey lost his leg, she quit her job to take care of him. She is now an education student at the University of Central Oklahoma. She said she plans to work as a substitute teacher to help out. McCarthey said he really hasn't looked that hard for another job. He's overqualified for many of the jobs available, or he's just not interested in them. Until he finds something, he just puts on his prosthetic leg when he gets up and does his normal chores. If his leg's not on, he'll use crutches or hop to his destination around the house. "He really hasn't slowed down, as far as things around here are concerned," Cassie McCarthey said. He still mows the lawn, works around the house and makes a bit of a nuisance of himself when he fells like it, she said.

New ways of thinking

To keep himself strong and positive, he lifts weights four times a week and rides his bicycle and motorcycle. The recent we weather has left him stuck in the house all day with not much to do except exercise. His personal trainer helps him lift weights regularly. Even though his activity level is still high, there are things that McCarthey can't do anymore. "I'm always frustrated with things that I used to be able to do and I can't do them now," he said, with a small smile. "I'm starting to know how my grandparents feel." Learning to walk was hard enough; but simple, everyday obstacles such as small hills are still a challenge. Steeper hills have to be navigated sideways. Sprinting and squatting are out of the question for now. Cassie McCarthey said the couple now must think about things such as the terrain of where they're going. "Things we never thought about before, we think about daily. It's a challenge for him. He takes it well enough, though. The rest of his body is strong enough to compensate," she said. A recent weekend was a challenge. The family went to the lake and McCarthey began learning to swim again. He'd tried it once before, but his arms and leg wouldn't work together. "It wasn't enough to get me going," he said. "It's probably more of a workout now than it was."

Struggling with morale

For days when things are really frustrating or when his leg's uncomfortable, McCarthey struggles to stay positive. Sometimes he feels like giving up trying to do things he used to do without problems. "He's taken away a lot from me," McCarthey said of Hollingsworth. His emotion-filled eyes stare straight ahead. "Sometimes, I hate him." McCarthey sums up his feelings on his web site, http://onelegtim.com. The site documents his life and experiences with pictures, poems and story in his own words. "I had to watch my wife and friends do everything for me, I mean everything. The worst feeling in the world for a cop is the feeling of weakness." Cassie McCarthey sympathizes with her husband, but tries not to baby him. She knows what it's like to be helpless and to depend on others when you're independent. Two months into their four-year marriage, the bones in her feet were shattered in a traffic accident. McCarthey was the caretaker during her rehabilitation for six months. But he seems to be taking the accident a little harder; at least, she still has her toes. "He has some self-confidence issues," she said. "To have something make you doubt yourself is hard. He was never afraid to try something; now he hesitates. To overcome his hesitancy, McCarthey is trying to help others who have suffered the same fate. He is trying to build relationships with people around the world with his website. He volunteers for Limbs for Life, a non-profit group that helps amputees get expensive prosthetics. Last year, he helped raise $80,000 through a bicycle ride from Oklahoma City to Dallas. "I've gotten to help people I normally wouldn't help," he said. "My website is reaching them. My relationship with my wife has gotten better, as well." McCarthey wants to improve his confidence on the road by running in the Para-Olympics with a special running prosthesis. The running leg is an aerodynamic curve of metal that allows a runner to move smoothly through a race or pleasure run. "I decided I wanted one as soon as I saw there was such a thing," he said with a big grin. "It will be good to feel the wind on my face when I run."