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Officer injured in White Water Classic detail gets surprise visit from Tuskegee

Injured officer gets surprise visit from brothers in blue and signed football from college football program

Alabama law enforcement officers joined forces with Willie Slater, head football coach at Tuskegee University, to lend support, offer encouragement, and deliver a signed football from Tuskegee University to Sgt. Robert Lambert of Phenix City Polic
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Alabama law enforcement officers joined forces with Willie Slater, head football coach at Tuskegee University, to lend support, offer encouragement, and deliver a signed football from Tuskegee University to Sgt. Robert Lambert of Phenix City Polic

Sgt. Robert Lambert, the Phenix City police officer who was injured on duty Sept. 10 after the White Water Classic, was paid a surprise visit Friday at his hospital by Tuskegee University football coach Willie Slater and members of the Alabama State Troopers escort detail.

Slater presented Lambert an autographed football and a Golden Tigers T-shirt at the Regional Rehabilitation Hospital in Phenix City. With his broken left arm wrapped and left leg amputated below the knee, Lambert was upbeat and smiling.

“Mentally, I’m good,” the 18-year veteran officer said to Slater. “It’s just a setback on my plans. As soon as I get my other foot, it’s going to be bigger and better.”

Lambert said he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“This could have happened to anybody,” he said.

Tracy Brown of LaGrange, Ga., was charged with DUI and first-degree assault in connection with striking Lambert, who was escorting the Tuskegee football team on his motorcycle along U.S. 431 when he was hit. The detail was at the intersection of U.S. 431 and Phenix Drive around 8:57 p.m. when a white Chevrolet Impala struck the officer’s cycle on the left side.

Lambert said he is still scheduled for another surgery Monday. His afternoon physical therapy was delayed Friday for the surprise visit.

“They are working me,” he said. “It’s alright. I’ve been in the doctor’s office in the morning and physical therapy in the afternoon.”

If everything goes as planned, Lambert hopes to leave the facility in early October.

After the visit, Slater said he hoped that Lambert would get some enjoyment from the surprise. Troopers Chris Davis, Chris Fails and Macon County Sheriff Andre Brunson joined Slater for the visit. They were in the detail that Saturday but didn’t know the officer had been injured.

Slater said Lambert’s work was appreciated but they didn’t want to bring memories about what happened.

“He did a great job escorting our team,” he said. “We wanted to come and show our respect.”

During a visit that lasted less than 10 minutes, Slater said he learned some things from the injured officer. “He seemed to be very appreciative of who he is and where he is at this present time,” he said.

Lambert knows his days on the motorcycle are over. During the White Water Classic next year, he plans to watch the game from the stands.

“Y’all have to count me out on next one,” he said. “My bike days are over.”

The visit did more than brighten Lambert’s day. “This was a blessed moment,” he said.

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