Grave Illness, Worker’s Comp Battle, Valor Award Marked Late Officer’s Career
Bomba, who died this week, recovered from near death in 2009
Montgomery County police officers, from left, Michael L. Kane, Thomas J. Bomba and David M. Magnelli
Photo courtesy of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce
A Montgomery County police officer who died this week faced a grave health struggle 10 years ago, then pursued a worker’s compensation claim.
Officer Thomas J. “T.J.” Bomba — whose death on Monday has been ruled suicide — was hospitalized in June 2009 with a severe infection that almost killed him, according to a web page his family posted to provide updates.
When his organs shut down, a hospital chaplain was called in to give last rites, but he recovered.
Throughout his hospitalization, Bomba was on dialysis, suffered organ failure and consistently had a fever, among other symptoms.
Bomba recovered and returned home in November 2009.
One journal entry that his family kept documenting his recovery refers to Bomba’s “original strep A infection” as necrotizing fasciitis, or flesh-eating disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flesh-eating disease is a rare infection caused when bacteria enter through cuts, scrapes and other types of injuries. Complications can include sepsis, shock and organ failure.
In December 2011, Bomba filed a worker’s compensation claim against Montgomery County, and the case continued into 2012 and 2013.
Daniel Maloney, one of his attorneys at the time, said in an interview Tuesday that the case stemmed from an infection Bomba got from wearing a “redman suit” used for activities such as canine training and baton training.
Maloney said Bomba had a health condition that made him susceptible to infection, and Bomba believed it was due to the training suit. Maloney said Bomba was diagnosed with strep, caused by the Streptococcus bacteria, and became so ill that he was “on his deathbed.”
“Somehow, he had some sort of skin condition where he had weaker skin or open sores,” Maloney said.
Maloney said Bomba survived the health scare and convinced the judge that the training equipment was to blame for the illness. He didn’t remember the specific amount of compensation awarded, but said it was “pretty significant.”
It is unclear whether Bomba’s worker’s compensation case was related to his 2009 illness.
Maloney said he has represented thousands of law enforcement officials, transit workers and other public employees in worker’s compensation cases. Bomba’s case sticks out because it was unusual, he said.
Maloney also said he remembers Bomba because of “what a decent human being he was.”
“When I represented Thomas, I worked with four other lawyers in a law firm, and the guy went out of his way to wish me luck and told me what he thought of me. The guy didn’t have to do that. It was really cool,” he said.
The Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce’s public safety committee in 2008 awarded Bomba and another officer the Silver Medal of Valor for their work in arresting an armed burglar in Burtonsville in 2007. The committee, which gives the annual award, is made up of law enforcement officials and chamber board members.
According to the text of the program from the 2008 award ceremony, Officer David M. Magnelli responded to a call of a man burglarizing a home in Burtonsville.
Officer Michael L. Kane and Bomba responded as backup and found the man walking south on Old Columbia Pike. Bomba ordered the man to stop. The man ignored the command, then ran.
Bomba and Kane chased the man, realizing he had a gun. The man fired at Kane and missed. Kane took the gun away from the man.
Later, when Magnelli arrived at the scene, they took the man into custody.
“Officer Kane and Officer Bomba displayed great heroism and exceptional bravery while confronting and arresting this violent, armed felon,” the program stated “Both officers fought valiantly and heroically while facing the threat of gunfire. The outstanding teamwork exemplified by each of these officers in capturing this violent felon demonstrated great valor on their part. Their training, knowledge, and experience all came together when confronted with an armed suspect intent on escaping capture at all costs.”
Bomba and Kane were awarded Silver Medals of Valor. Magnelli was given an Honorable Mention of Valor.
Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.firstname.lastname@example.org