AUGUSTA — Police Chief Robert Gregoire is set to return home 80 days after suffering spinal cord injuries in a motorcycle crash, his wife said.

Gregoire, 49, now uses a wheelchair, but his wife said he has full mobility in his arms and is in good spirits. He is due back home Tuesday.

Monday night at The Red Barn, a restaurant on Riverside Drive, friends and supporters of Gregoire raised thousands of dollars to help his family retrofit the home he’ll stay in as he recuperates. A two-hour event and an online fundraising effort netted nearly $16,000 for the family, according to the restaurant.

“The outpouring that we’ve had from the community … is absolutely incredible,” said the chief’s wife, Cathy Gregoire, “and it hasn’t stopped since the first day in the hospital.”

Gregoire and his wife were on a charity motorcycle ride on Sept. 6 in Jay when a wet road caused the chief to lose control of his bike, which hit a soft shoulder and threw the Gregoires to the ground. Augusta Police Sgt. Christopher Shaw, following them, laid his motorcycle down trying to avoid that crash. The three were taken to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. Gregoire was first listed in critical condition, while Cathy Gregoire and Shaw were released within days.

Since then, Deputy Chief Jared Mills has run the Augusta department.

By October, the chief was recovering at a Boston rehabilitation hospital. He’ll leave there on Tuesday, Cathy Gregoire said, but challenges remain. It’s not known if the chief will walk again.

“Every day, we’ve made gains. We’ve never gone backwards,” she said. “Every day, he gets stronger.”

The family’s two-story home can’t be made wheelchair-accessible, but an accessible home is being loaned to the Gregoires. Proceeds from the fundraising effort will go toward retrofitting the home for the chief’s needs.

The chief also needs special equipment, and insurance won’t cover all the costs. For example, he needs a special exercise machine that stimulates his arms and legs, Cathy Gregoire said. When he returns from Boston, his wife said, the family will get a better handle on his needs and be able to use the money to buy the best equipment to help him.

The Red Barn can’t disburse the money to the family directly, so it will coordinate purchases with the family, said Red Barn spokeswoman Alicia Barnes. The restaurant, which often hosts community fundraisers, served roughly 1,400 people between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m Monday, including many law enforcement personnel from Kennebec County and beyond.

“He’s done some great things for the city,” Barnes said.

Among the crowd was Ray Fecteau of Glen Street, who led the effort to build the petanque courts at Augusta’s Mill Park. Fecteau said he doesn’t know Gregoire but showed up at the fundraiser Monday night to support the chief.

“The guy has a serious problem, and he needs assistance,” he said. “Our two cents-worth is going to help him. We’re going to put in our two cents-worth.”

Before the crash, Cathy Gregoire said she and her husband walked three miles a day. Now, she said there’s no timetable for further recovery, even though he’s “a strong man” who has made gains.

“Your body will do what your body wants to do,” she said. “Everybody’s hopeful, but you can’t live on that. You have to live for today.”

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652

[email protected]

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme


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