GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Officer Luis Garcia has been released from the hospital Friday.
Garcia was recovering after a man driving a stolen vehicle crashed into his patrol car Monday night.
Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania spoke about Officer Luis Garcia's sense of humor and resiliency Tuesday afternoon while discussing the police chase that put the officer in the hospital.
During the press conference, Chief Papania did not elaborate on Garcia's injuries but did say that he is expected to make a full recovery. The chief also told funny anecdotes about Garcia, saying that anyone who knows the ten year veteran of the department knows that he is loved by his fellow officers, his administration, and his city.
"The community response speaks volumes for those that we serve," said Chief Papania. "It has been overwhelming. The care and support of the people in Gulfport and on the Gulf Coast is incredible and, quite frankly, that's why I always brag on working here."
A ten year veteran of Gulfport Police Department, Garcia is currently assigned to the patrol division. He is also a certified hostage negotiator - a skill that many on the Coast remember when he helped save a man's life back in 2015.
"Many of you will remember when he engaged a despondent individual on the Kremer bridge who had fastened a noose around his neck and was threatening to hurt himself," said Chief Papania. "Officer Garcia's incredible gift of negotiating skills led to a very good and safe ending. For his acts on this event, he received a lifesaving citation."
Chief Papania said the investigation into the crash that caused Garcia's injuries is ongoing.
Authorities say the crash happened when officers tried to stop a stolen 2014 Chevrolet Express van that was driven by 18-year-old Eli Daniel Bosworth. While being pursued, the teenager reportedly sped up, turning south onto Three Rivers Road.
Officer Garcia had set up his vehicle as a barricade at the intersection of Creosote and Three Rivers Roads in an effort to help keep the public safe. While fleeing from the officers, Bosworth slammed into Garcia's patrol car. He was arrested at the scene of the accident and is now charged with felony eluding and motor vehicle theft.
Officer Garcia is still in the hospital, where he is receiving evaluations and treatment for his injuries. No other information has been released at this time about the type of injuries he received. However, he is expected to make a full recovery.
"Some of you may have been on the scene and saw the results of the damage to his vehicle. It is amazing that his injuries don't reflect that level," said Chief Papania. "He has substantial injury but there is nothing that we have heard that leads me to believe that he's not going to make a full recovery. Its a heck of an impact and I truly don't understand how he's in as good of shape as he's in."
Chief Papania said many people in the community have reached out to offer financial donations and offers of support in helping Garcia in his recovery. The police chief said donations can be made to G.C.O.P.S, a nonprofit that was formed by friends of the Gulfport Police Department. There will be a special account at Hancock Bank titled GCOPS Benefit Account for Officer Luis Garcia. Donations can be made at any branch.
Authorities are also asking any witnesses to the incident to contact Gulfport Police Department at 228-896-5959.