GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Gulfport officer Luis Garcia is still recovering after being hit last month by a teenager driving a stolen van. In a video released by Gulfport Police Department Wednesday, Officer Garcia thanked everyone in the community for their support.
"I want to thank you guys for all the prayers and wishes. As you can see, I'm out of bed," said Officer Garcia in the video. "Thanks to the kids at 28th Street Elementary for sending me all of these cards and whatnot."
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.
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 is also a special account at Hancock Bank titled GCOPS Benefit Account for Officer Luis Garcia. Donations can be made at any branch.