A 66-year-old Vietnam veteran, former cop, former prison warden and former Darby Borough Council president was shot in the face by a stray bullet while he was driving on the streets of Chester Monday afternoon.
Although Nick DiGregorio was released from the hospital yesterday, he said the bullet remains lodged in his left cheek.
"I don't think it's really hit me altogether yet but another couple inches the bullet would have hit my throat, or my brain or my heart," DiGregorio said in a phone interview today. "I don't think I really feel the magnitude of what happened yet."
DiGregorio, who now drives a freight delivery truck, was approaching a red light on 9th Street near Pennell around 2:30 p.m. when he said he heard the shots.
"But I wasn't sure if they were firecrackers," he said. "As I was coming to a halt, I saw a car turn onto 9th with a man on foot chasing and shooting at them."
One of those bullets pierced DiGregorio's windshield, went through his upper lip, hit his tooth, went into his gum and lodged in his upper-left cheek, he said. At first, DiGregorio said he didn't even realize what happened.
"Then I saw the blood," he said. "I guess the shock held back any pain."
He said a few people on the street started coming around his truck. Not only was he able to call 911, but he had the wherewithal to call the company for which he drives truck.
"I still had freight on the truck," DiGregorio said. "I didn't want the truck to be abandoned."
DiGregorio was taken to Crozer-Chester Medical Center. He said doctors told him they wanted to wait a couple weeks or a month for the swelling in his face to go down before trying to remove the bullet.
A married father of five, DiGregorio served in the Vietnam War and was a police officer in Darby in the early 1970s. He then worked at the Delaware County Prison, where he retired as a deputy warden.
"He's had an extensive career in law enforcement and this happens to him," said Colwyn borough manager Paula Brown, a former Darby mayor. "He's a great guy, an unbelievable guy."
DiGregorio also served as a Darby Borough Council president and as Darby borough manager. Despite a bullet wound to the face, DiGregorio joked that he "really should work on my bucket list."
He said he hasn't heard anything about an arrest in the shooting and he wasn't able to see the shooter's face well enough to get a good description.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Chester police at 610-447-7931.