LINCOLN — It’s been a rewarding eight days for Michael Hutchinson, the Deuel County deputy who was shot four times while trying to serve an arrest warrant in 2015.
First, Gov. Pete Ricketts signed Legislative Bill 444, which prohibits cities or counties from canceling health insurance for any on-duty first responder or front-line state employee who suffers a serious bodily injury from an assault. That happened April 27.
A week later, Hutchinson received a Public Servant Hero award during the American Red Cross’ Heartland Heroes banquet in Grand Island. The award cited Hutchinson for his “nothing short of extraordinary’’ dedication in upholding his oath to protect and serve. It was presented Thursday.
Hutchinson, who said he was humbled by the Red Cross recognition, said he was elated that the governor signed LB 444.
“It will help others and it will guide (cities and counties) not to do the wrong thing,’’ he said Friday. “Something positive has come from this, but it shouldn’t have had to go that far.’’
The bill was introduced by State Sen. Lynne Walz of Fremont, who made it her priority legislation. It initially applied only to law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel. It was amended to include state Correctional and Health and Human Services employees who work with high-risk individuals in state custody.
In December 2015, Hutchinson was jumped and shot four times at close range in Big Springs, Nebraska, while attempting to serve an arrest warrant on a man out of jail on an attempted first-degree murder charge in Colorado.
Although Hutchinson’s medical bills from the near-deadly assault have been paid by the county’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier, he subsequently lost family health insurance provided through the county because he wasn’t working at least 30 hours a week.
Hutchinson said he continues to work on his recovery. He is restricted from lifting more than 30 pounds and should not run, jump or climb. He has not been released to return to work.
Hutchinson plans to travel Monday to Lincoln to meet with a specialist in hopes of alleviating back and hip pain.
“I’m kind of limited, and I’m just happy I can walk,’’ he said.