GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Courtney Brown is thankful for her family's lives after she says Officer Louis Garcia saved them.
"If he hadn't of stopped in the middle of the intersection, that van would have hit us," said Brown.
Courtney Brown, her young daughter, and her boyfriend were all in a car being driven by her boyfriend's mother when they noticed police cars zooming through the intersection ahead.
"The other police officer, which was Garcia, he just stops in the middle of the intersection. So, nobody could go through. As soon as he did, a van going about 75/80 mph crashed into him," said Brown.
Garcia had to be cut out of his car. Brown remembers hearing him screaming in pain.
"It was bad. we were just hoping he was alive," said Brown.
Garcia was taken to the hospital with serious injuries. Police Chief Leonard Papania held a press conference to update Officer Garcia's condition.
"Many of y'all saw pictures or may have been on scene and saw the amount of damage to his vehicle. It's amazing his injuries don't reflect that level," said Brown.
Garcia, a 10-year veteran of the force, is expected to make a full recovery, and his heroism doesn't come as a surprise to those who know him.
"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. Officer Garcia's incredible gift of negotiating skills led to a very good and safe ending," said Chief Papania.
Garcia was awarded for that successful negotiation, and his actions Monday night were a reminder of why.
"I am extremely thankful for him. Because of him, my daughter and my boyfriend they're still alive and he saved other people's lives as well, and that's just the most courageous brave act I've ever witnessed," said Brown.
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-Cops, a nonprofit that was formed by friends of the Gulfport Police Department.
Authorities are also asking any witnesses to the incident to contact Gulfport Police Department at (228) 896-5959.