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News conference held for Leechburg police chief who lost arm in fireworks accident

Leechburg police Chief Mike Diebold has been released from UPMC Mercy after losing his arm while lighting fireworks for his community in Leechburg.

"It was the only time in my life I had to concentrate on breathing and staying alive," Diebold said.

Thursday afternoon, he took questions from the media.

Diebold said he is healing, and added that though it will be a long process, he plans to get back to work as soon as he's fully functional.

"I didn't think I was going to make it out of the ambulance the night they loaded me up, to be honest with you," Diebold said.


"I've had my time to pout, I've had my time to cry about it, and now it's time to move on," he said.

His positive spirit is almost unbelievable, less than two weeks after nearly losing his life.

"It appears one of the fireworks exploded immediately upon exiting the mortar tube."

He lost his arm and has burn marks up and down his body.

"I'm in a lot of pain right now but you know what? I'm just going to bear it and move on with life eventually," Diebold said. "I've heard from people I've put in jail. I've had visitors here that I've cited for things in the past."


Diebold got a police escort from officers to head home from the hospital.

"Rest, rehab, and venture down the road of prosthetics to see what I can get on me, get back to work," Diebold said.

The Armstrong County community is rallying around him and his family, too.

Christ the King Church hosted a benefit spaghetti dinner for Diebold on Thursday. All proceeds will go to the family.

When the residents of Leechburg heard Diebold, 39, who became a police officer at 19 and has served as Leechburg police chief for a decade, nearly lost his life in a June 24 fireworks accident, they went to work.

A T-shirt that reads, “We Stand By Ours. #teamdiebold1565" is being sold, with all proceeds going to Diebold and his family.

was launched in his fiancee’s name to help with medical expenses. And now they’ll serve pasta.

Diebold lost his lower left arm and suffered other injuries, but is expected to make a full recovery. He’s said he hopes to get a prosthetic that will allow him to return to police work.