Gary French Dockery (1954 – April 15, 1997), was a police officer in Walden, Tennessee, who made world headlines after emerging from a 7½ year coma-like state and started talking enthusiastically, recognizing friends and recalling events from past years. He then fell back into a coma and died a year later.
On September 17, 1988, he was shot in the forehead by a drunken assailant as he responded to a domestic disturbance call. He slipped into what doctors called a persistent vegetative state, unable to communicate except occasionally with eye blinks and groans—indicating that part of his brain was still working.
But on February 11, 1996, he inexplicably stirred and started talking again nonstop, recognizing old friends, recalling the names of his horses, and recalling camping trips. By the second day he had largely become silent again, as he recovered from lung surgery and a serious bout of pneumonia. He never recovered to the same degree again.
A year later, on April 15, 1997, he died at the age of 43 from a blood clot in his lung. Dockery was transported from his nursing home to Erlanger hospital where he was pronounced dead at 9:52 a.m.
- NYTimes: Ex-Officer Is Alert After Surgery but Not Talking Again
- NYTimes: Injured in '88, Officer Awakes in '96
- NYTimes: Officer Who Emerged From Long Coma Dies
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