Officer Elia Lewin-Tankel, a much-loved Tenderloin beat cop, was responding to the scene of a crime on the afternoon of Oct. 18 when a man who was driving a large Lexus SUV allegedly ran him over and fled the scene, spurring a multi-neighborhood manhunt.
Lewin-Tankel was rushed to the hospital, and for a few days, things didn’t look good. Grim-faced San Francisco Police Department heads gave press conferences outside Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, and Lewin-Tankel’s wife, Shideh Etaat, asked the city to send thoughts and good energy toward her husband.
Gradually, the updates from SFPD and the accompanying news coverage slowed to a halt. As the weeks passed, a GoFundMe was set up to support Etaat, who is a teacher at Mission High School, as she cares for Lewin-Tankel. The updates on the fundraiser have been short but sweet.
“His vitals are good, he’s breathing on his own for longer periods of time, and showing more signs of movement,” wrote family friend Kathryn McEachern on Nov. 1.
On Tuesday, McEachern stated that “He’s breathing on his own for long periods of time, between 8-10 hours at a time, and his vitals are all where they should be. Yesterday, he opened both of his eyes for a few minutes and moved his arm around. We catch moments of increased alertness, like what we saw yesterday, and then his medical team increases his sedation to make sure he rests, so he can heal without experiencing pain.”
And today, the good news came that Lewin-Tankel will be transferred to a long-term care and recovery center in Santa Clara. “His transfer is the next step forward in a very long recovery process, and we’re encouraged by the fact that he’s stable enough to take this step,” McEachern writes.
While this update is heartening, there is still a very long journey ahead for both Lewin-Tankel, Etaat, and their family. “When Elia transfers, Shideh and their family will also be relocating in order to be close to him,” McEachern says. “The medical staff routinely reminds us that being surrounded by loved ones is a critical part of Elia’s recovery.”
That move, she highlights, is the impetus for raising the goal of the fundraiser to $100,000. As of Thursday afternoon, $70,000 had been raised, with more coming in every couple hours.
For now, it seems Lewin-Tankel’s next steps will probably take place without the media watching them. But with this latest update, it appears there’s a chance this story will have a happy ending.