Gary Dockery

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Gary French Dockery (1954 – April 15, 1997) was an American police officer in Walden, Tennessee. After being critically injured in 1988, he spent 7½ years in a coma-like state. In 1996, he emerged from the coma 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.[citation needed]

But on February 11, 1996, he stirred and started talking, recognizing old friends, recalling the names of his horses, and recalling camping trips.[1] By the second day he had largely become silent again, as he recovered from lung surgery and a serious bout of pneumonia.[2] 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.[3]

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