Nickolas Wilt is finally going home after spending over 100 days in the hospital recovering from being shot in the head while responding to a fatal bank shooting in April.
The 26-year-old underwent brain surgery after the shooting and spent roughly a month on a ventilator, police said. By May, Wilt was off the ventilator and all other life-sustaining equipment, while still dealing with pneumonia and “other lung complications,” Louisville police at the time.
After spending most of the spring and summer months in rehab recovering from his injuries at The Frazier Rehabilitation Institute in Louisville, he was discharged Friday.
Doctors commended Wilt’s tenacity and strength along with the supportive nature of his family, in a news conference Friday ahead of his discharge, CNN affiliate WLKY reported.
His twin brother, Zack Wilt, spoke on his behalf, thanked those who helped along the way and said his brother is looking forward to enjoying a good meal.
“He’s been asking for a steak dinner for a couple of weeks now, and you bet we’re going to get him a steak dinner tonight,” Zack Wilt said during Friday’s news conference.
“Kentucky, our prayers were heard,” Gov. Andy Beshear said in a Facebook post Friday. “Officer Wilt is a hero who ran toward danger to save the lives of several of my friends. I am forever grateful for him and his bravery. Let’s keep praying for him.”
Wilt, a rookie Louisville police officer, had just graduated from police academy 11 days before the shooting at Old National Bank that left five people dead and others injured.
He was one of the first officers on scene and ran toward the gunfire without hesitating, authorities previously said. Police later shot and killed the gunman.
Over the last few weeks, Wilt worked on regaining his consciousness, his ability to speak, swallow, take care of himself, stand and even start walking again, Dr. Darryl Kaelin, medical director at Frazier Rehabilitation Institute said Friday during a news conference.
Kaelin said Wilt was “making a remarkable recovery.”
“Resilience, strength, courage, service. Those are just a few of the words to describe Officer Nickolas Wilt,” Louisville Metro Police Department wrote about the homecoming on its Facebook page Friday.
Louisville Metro Police Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel visited Wilt Thursday, ahead of his discharge and said during Friday’s news conference the highlight of her day was when she was getting ready to leave and Wilt shook her hand and said “Thanks, Chief.”
“I never thought that I will be able to hear those words, and so that’s my focus,” she said. “That he’ll continue to make great strides and whatever his future holds. LMPD is going to be right here to navigate that with him,” Gwinn-Villaroel said.
Next week, Wilt will begin outpatient rehabilitation therapy five days a week and have physical therapy for leg strengthening, standing and walking, Kaelin said.
Wilt will also receive occupational therapy to focus on self-care skills and strengthening his arms and speech and cognitive therapy to improve his talking, his problem-solving, thinking and memory, he added.