Unlikely Recovery for Trooper Struck by Texting Driver
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March 17, 2017: 40-year-old Florida Highway Patrolman Carlos Rosario clocked a speeding car on State Road 836 and signaled the driver to pull over.
Following close behind was another car. The 26-year-old driver was texting. He didn’t notice the car in front slowing down.
State Trooper Pierre Llaniel: “I heard some tires squeaking so I look up -- there's this car kinda swerving around another car. And that's when I see the vehicle collide with Carlos, and sent Carlos just flying right by our cars.
District Captain Elery Collado: “I was a traffic homicide investigator for a couple of years and I’ve seen death. Unfortunately I've seen fatalities on the highway that looked less injured than he did. Really it feels like your heart breaks, it really does. “
Carlos’ wife, Ana, was at work when she got the call.
Ana: “Well, my heart dropped. I was just scared. You know, I didn't want to imagine the worst.”
Carlos was life-flighted to Jackson Ryder Trauma Center in Miami. Trauma surgeon Dr. Carl Schulman was one of a large team that fought to save him.
Dr. Schulman: “I'd say Carlos' situation when he first got here was about as serious as it gets. His blood pressure was very low, the transfusions were having to go constantly, and we were really struggling and doing everything we know how to do to keep him alive. There were multiple times where I thought he wasn't going to make it.”
Ana arrived at the hospital where Carlos’ brother, also a trooper, filled her in.
Ana: “I knew that it had to be really bad because of the way he looked at me, I could see the fear in his eyes. “
Dr. Schulman: “He had a lot of facial injuries, he had a traumatic brain injury. I mean, his orthopedic injures were devastating, devastating.”
Ana: “The biggest thing that crossed my mind was ‘How long is he going to live? And am I able to see him or see, you know, see his eyes even once more?’"
For hours, Ana and a room full of friends, family, and Florida State Troopers waited. Then doctors told her they discovered a brain bleed that might require additional surgery.
Ana: “I started to cry. And my oldest son says, ‘Mom, no.’ He's like, ‘You know that we serve a God that He, you know, performs any miracle.’ And we went on our knees to pray. Everyone in that room, they also went on their knees too. And I said, "God, I know/ what you can do for my husband. I believe it. Right there and then the doctors walked in and said, he was able to react to what we were waiting for - we don't have to perform surgery on the brain, in the area he was bleeding."
Carlos lived through the night, but was still in a coma. For 17 days, his loved ones waited and prayed, until he finally woke up.
Carlos: “I remember seeing my wife there, with me, hugging me, kissing me. The doctors, ‘How do you feel?’ Asking me a lot of questions.”
Ana: “It was joy, like joy and I had so much peace. He could not talk because his mouth was wired shut, but the movements that he would make. That's how I understood that I knew that he was going to be okay. I just felt it. I know that Jesus was with him.
But with multiple fractures in his legs, arm, back, and jaw, Carlos began a very long, steep road of physical recovery …that didn’t look promising.
Dr. Schulman: “To be honest with you, in those early days, I didn't see him getting back to work.”
Carlos: “Not being able to be there for the family, having Ana clean me, until I could become independent again, - those days were the worst.”
In the face of their fears, the Rosarios turned to God for hope and strength.
Carlos: ”Then Ana would encourage me, and my brother would encourage me and, ‘Hey, no man, through Christ you can do it. Let's just pray. ‘”
Just shy of three months after the accident, Carlos stunned everyone when he took his first steps -- on his own.
Carlos: “So when I started walking, it was exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think of. It was all Him. And I knew that day, that I was going to be coming back to work one day.”
Dr. Schulman: “He has a lot of faith and I think that really drove him and pushed him to know that he could see the end. He knew he was going to get better.”
For the next year and a half, Carlos worked hard in his therapy, and leaned hard on God. The support he received from all kinds of people fueled his determination. Carlos not only learned to walk again, but in time, began to run. He went on to recover fully, and to everyone’s amazement, Carlos returned to work less than two years after the accident.
Dr. Schulman: “I didn't think he was going to recover the way he recovered. It’s pretty near miraculous. “
Carlos received a long letter of apology from the driver who hit him -- and he chose to forgive him. The young man received five years probation, a suspended license, and community service. As for Carlos and Ana, they’re thankful for each day of life…..
Ana: “He's still here. He's still here and I’m so grateful. He means the world to me. He's my husband, he's my love. I'm one big believer in prayer, the biggest believer.
Carlos: “That’s just unimaginable that love He's got for me. And for you and for the world. It was all Him. It's too good to be true. That's our Jesus.”
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