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Hope restored for fallen hero

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The Ellis County Press

Imagine having your house swarmed by the SWAT team first thing in the morning.

That is exactly what took place at the home of Carlton and Susan Marshall on July 10.

Fortunately, the raid was a friendly one. Members of the Dallas SWAT team stormed the house to announce the news that ABC’s hit reality show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, had traveled to Lancaster to build the DPD Lieutenant and his family a brand-new house.

Marshall, a member of the Dallas SWAT team, was severely wounded in the line of duty nearly two years ago.

On Oct. 17, 2007 at approximately 6 a.m., Marshall and a group of other law enforcement officers were helping federal agents serve a warrant for money laundering in the South Oak Cliff area.

While his team attempted to rush into the house, Marshall was shot while standing near a window.

Despite wearing the standard protective gear, a .45 caliber round tore through his throat crushing three vertebrae in the process. The wound immediately rendered Marshall helpless.

Mere seconds after the blast, two SWAT doctors descended on the lieutenant whom other SWAT team members had already dragged to the front of the small brick house. Dr. Alex Eastman and Dr. Jeff Metzger crouched over Marshall as he lay on the grass trying to assess his wounds.

The bullet had caused Marshall to be unable to breathe so the doctors had to perform an emergency tracheotomy to allow him to access oxygen. Marshall was then transported to Methodist Medical Center in Oak Cliff where he underwent life-saving surgery. Police officers arrived at the hospital en force as the news spread that one of their own had fallen in the line of duty.

Marshall hovered between consciousness and coma for weeks. After surviving the initial ordeal of such a catastrophic event, Marshall’s struggles had only begun. A severe stroke left Marshall in a wheelchair with limited mobility and antibiotics to fight a case of bacterial meningitis destroyed Marshall’s hearing. He now has to wear cochlear implants to hear.

Marshall’s wife Susan, a homicide detective with the Irving Police Department, and their two young children, Jessica and Joseph have been by his side the entire journey.

After two understatedly rough years, Carlton Marshall and his family received some much needed good news and promise of new-found hope. This past Friday morning, Ty Pennington and his fellow Extreme Makeover: Home Edition co-stars, Tracy, Pauli, and Eduardo, rolled into Lancaster to give the Marshall family a new 4,000 square foot home completely wheelchair-friendly.

The Dallas SWAT team officers showed up in full gear, 20 to 30 pounds of dark gear in the soaring Texas heat, plus pry bars, and commenced the demolition of the Marshall’s old house of approximately 2,200 square feet. The SWAT team tore down walls and even succeeded in crushing a toilet. "We’re all SWAT guys, we’re independent, and it’s hard to be dependent on your family," said Dallas SWAT Senior Corporal Tim Houston.

After the house was leveled and the debris cleaned away, several hundred volunteers, chosen from more than 10,000 applicants, joined construction workers from all over the DFW metroplex to begin the week-long rebuilding process.

The mastermind behind the building of the new house is Cheldan Homes of Fort Worth. When first approached to contribute their expertise, Cheldan CEO and owner Joey Goss was hesitant. Due to the current housing market and the company’s struggles the past two years, it took finding out that the build was for a fallen officer to get Goss and his crew on board. "We’re thankful for the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition folks who gave us the opportunity to build a house for Carlton Marshall and his family," said Goss is a press conference Monday morning.

Everything from the kitchen cabinets to the bathrooms to the hallways and doors was laid out with Lieutenant Marshall’s needs in mind. Everything is wheelchair accessible including the driveway, sidewalk, and patios. "It was a concern of everyone about building an outstanding house. We didn’t want it to be expensive to maintain," said Rick Nunnally, CFO of Cheldan Homes. "The old house was around 2,200 square feet and the family had converted the garage to a therapy room for Marshall. The new house is approximately 4,000 square feet, with every room handicap accessible which is a big change from his old house because there were rooms Carlton couldn’t even go into," added Nunnally. Along with making sure the new house made moving around more convenient for Marshall, planners also wanted to make the house as "green" and energy efficient as possible to keep maintenance costs to a minimum.

Home Energy Americas, LLC provided a V200 energy ball wind turbine, nearly noise and vibration free, generator capable of producing 2.5 consistent kilowatts of power with just 6.7 mph winds. GreenWatt Energy Systems, Inc. supplied four extremely powerful GreenWatt 2500 solar attic fans. The self-contained attic fans draw their power from the sun and will help pull hot air of the attic at the rate of 1600 CFM thus reducing electricity bills by thousands of dollars a year for the homeowners. Another "green" contribution came in the form of a Greencore Air solar powered air conditioning/heating system from Solar Green Solutions. The unit is DC powered and runs either on solar or wind power. Several five-hour batteries collect energy while the unit is working so as to continue to work when renewable resources are unavailable. Other special energy-conserving building materials were used to increase the efficiency of the new Marshall home. TXI provided all the concrete for the project lining up at least 20 trucks Saturday evening to start pouring into the forms laid by True Grit Concrete. True Grit Concrete was unable to pour the concrete due to being based out of Saginaw, Texas.

The Marshall’s have also been built a garage to be used for that sole purpose, as a designated therapy room was planned into the house design. The therapy room will have all the needed equipment for Lieutenant Marshall to be able to continue his therapeutic workouts within the comforts of his own home. A television will be installed in the room so that Marshall can watch and follow therapy videos designed for his specific needs. Also included in the home is a secret room whose purpose will only be revealed by Pennington to the family. Crews also put together a brand-new three stall horse barn so that the Marshalls can continue to be involved with TROT, Therapeutic Riding of Texas. The barn will be completely enclosed and air-conditioned.

Monday was an especially touching day in the building process. "Today’s a special day because we had the ‘Cops Hauling Rocks.’ This morning, about a quarter til nine, 30 to 40 Dallas Police officers showed up and took this job by storm and moved the rocks hand to hand to the point where we just thought we’d back out of the way and let these men and women that protect us and serve us each day continue to just do their job," gushed Cheldan CEO Joey Goss.

The Marshalls, who have spent the week in California at Disneyland, will have their new house revealed to them this Thursday hopefully between the hours of 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. If you want to be a part of the crowd to tell the driver to "MOVE THAT BUS!" officials say to arrive early, at least by 10 a.m., and dress accordingly.

The Extreme Makeover: Home Edition episode featuring the Marshall’s new home is said to be the season premiere scheduled for Sunday, September 27, 2009 at 7/6c on ABC.

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