Michael Case said he feels like tragedy opened a new chapter in his life. And turning that page gave him some perspective on social values.
The Homewood resident and Amtrak conductor was shot in the abdomen by a passenger last May at a Naperville Metra station. Edward Klein of West Allis, Wisconsin, was discharged from the DuPage County jail last week and will be committed to a private, secure senior facility in Wisconsin, the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s office confirmed. He was declared mentally unfit and deemed unfit to stand trial.
“Mental illness is real and we have a duty and a responsibility as a society to help those that need help,” Case said. “These people who are walking amongst us out in the streets, they’re hurting and they can be potentially dangerous. Our society needs to start recognizing that these people need help.”
Klein, who is 80 years old, can only leave the facility in an emergency.
“The sentence feels fair,” Case said. “He’s going to get help in this facility. He can’t be a burden out in society and we’re good with that.”
Case had his final surgery Jan. 3 to reattached his intestines. It came with a good amount of pain, swelling and bruising, but it was a success.
“All systems are go. Everything’s working,” Case said. “It was uncomfortable, but time is doing its thing and I’m being patient with the process.”
No official physical therapy is needed, but he’s doing light exercise with his wife Sara. He’s walking about 40 minutes a day and hopes to get the green light from doctors to begin lifting light weights soon.
He’ll need to do a lot of core work and get the strength back in his legs, but Case expects to be near 100 percent again by spring or early summer. It’ll be the first time in about a year.
“The months of December and January were very busy, very trying months after the court date with Mr. Klein, him getting his final sentencing and then the surgery and the holidays,” Case said. “We were completely exhausted.”
When the surgeon sewed up Case’s abdomen for the final time, it wasn’t just a physical closer. Case said it was one of the last mental hurdles, as well.
“I’m starting to get a little excitement about this new life and being whole again,” Case said. “I’m just so ready to move on, to get passed this and jump full swing into the new life. I’m feeling good.”