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In the early morning hours of Feb. 28, the life of 28-year-old Fairfax police officer Long V. Dinh Jr. changed forever.

Just after midnight, police responded to a report of a domestic dispute in the 4800 block of Tapestry Drive in Fairfax, near George Mason University. According to police reports, an officer approached Cicero I. Limberea, 40, of no fixed address, to ask him about the domestic incident. But Limberea chose not to speak to police, instead getting into an SUV and speeding away into oncoming westbound traffic on Little River Turnpike, striking several vehicles as he attempted to outrun police trying to keep up with him in the eastbound lanes.

Dinh was one of the officers who had been called in for backup and was responding just as Limberea crossed over the Capital Beltway in Annadale, hitting Dinh’s patrol car head-on at an estimated 100 miles per hour.

Limberea was pronounced dead at the scene. Miraculously, Dinh survived the impact but was critically injured and trapped in what was left of his vehicle.

“You can just picture that in your mind,” said Mike Scanlon, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 77.

“A 3,800-pound SUV slamming into a 3,200-pound patrol car at 100 miles per hour. That creates an enormous amount of impact energy. It was so severe that the intrusion of the SUV engine and front wheels into the patrol car had him completely pinned inside. I got a call at 2 a.m. that morning telling me what happened and that he was having to be cut out of his vehicle.”

Dinh was extracted from the patrol car and taken to a local hospital in critical condition, where he remained for weeks.

He is currently still residing in a rehabilitation facility. Police have not disclosed the exact nature of Dinh’s injuries except to say that he suffered multiple broken bones, is not yet able to walk, and that his jaw was wired shut for weeks.

“His body took a lot of the collision impact. He was wearing his seat belt and a ballistic vest when the crash occurred,” Scanlon said. “That’s probably what saved his life.”

Dinh, a Springfield native who graduated from George Mason University in 2007 with a degree in criminal justice, joined the Fairfax County Police shortly after graduating. He was working out of the Mason District Station when the collision occurred. “I know his family very well and they told me that he wanted to be a police officer since he was about 12 years old,” Scanlon said. “His father told me that he would have rather had him become a lawyer, but being a police officer was what his son said he always wanted. Right now, he is still very focused on getting back to being one.”

Scanlon said Dinh was one of the original members of Lodge 77, which has only been in existence for about two years as part of the Fraternal Order of Police, established in 1935.

The lodge, as well as fellow officers from the Mason District Station, will be hosting a fundraising benefit April 28 to collect money for a rehabilitation fund that has been set up for Dinh.

The fundraiser will be at Hard Times Café, at 4069 Chain Bridge Road in Fairfax, from noon to 7 p.m. Hard Times will donate a portion of the night’s sales to Dinh and his family.

Anyone interested in donating to the fundraiser can purchase a raffle ticket. Raffle tickets are one for $10 and three for $25. Raffle prizes include gift cards to local restaurants and other businesses, Washington Redskins and Washington Capitals items, and many other prizes. To buy raffle tickets, contact Officer Courtney K. Young at the Mason District Station, 703-256-8035, or by email; Courtney.Young@fairfaxcounty.gov.

A hockey game between the Fairfax County Police and the DC Metropolitan Police with proceeds to benefit Dinh’s rehabilitation fund will also take place April 28 at 5 p.m. at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex, at 627 N. Glebe Road in Arlington.

gmacdonald@fairfaxtimes.com