GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - One South Mississippi man who has put his life on the line every day as a Gulfport police officer is back at work after severe injuries following a January crash.
Officer Luis Garcia returned to work this week at Gulfport Police Department, where he is working light-duty.
"It's been pretty rough on that aspect," said Garcia. "But the good thing is that I'm progressing and every day I feel like I'm getting stronger. And my main thing is to come back to work."
Although you won't find him patrolling the streets any time soon, he says being back at full capacity is something he is greatly looking forward to, despite the risks.
"I ended up with some broken ribs and some transverse process on my spine that was fractured," Garcia explained. "And a whole bunch of bruising and I took most of the impact on my side."
Garcia said he still feels the pain from those injuries, but his quick thinking on that night is what kept others from being victims in a car crash. It was a move that required little thought, just action. And it's one that Garcia says any police officer would do.
"It's part of the job and, without a doubt, it has nothing to do with me as a person or the person that I am. It's just being a police officer."
Despite all he's been through, Garcia holds no ill will towards the driver, who actually apologized for what he did to Garcia.
"This is business and I don't take it personal," he said. "I told the detective that I would accept his apology and that I hope he becomes a good productive member of society."
Garcia spent three months off the job. While he missed work, the downtime turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
"I've got three kids and being able to spend more time with them is the biggest thing I've gotten out of this," said Garcia. "I'm kinda glad that I was able to experience that, to be honest with you. Every now and then we need a sign to slow down and I think I got mine."
Garcia has been with the department for ten years now. He said his biggest goal right now is to get back to being a patrol officer. His doctors said it could be another four months before that happens.