MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Having walked up to death’s door two months ago, Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Carlos Rosario rolled out the front door of Miami’s Ryder Trauma Center in a wheelchair Friday.
“I love you guys,” Rosario called out to a waiting group of troopers, doctors, nurses and reporters.
There was little hope for the 37-year-old, 12-year veteran trooper earlier this year.
“Because of God’s grace, I’m alive,” Rosario said Friday, speaking before more than a dozen television news cameras – his first public comments since nearly getting killed while on duty, by a driver who was allegedly texting.
On March 17th, Rosario was standing on the shoulder of the Dolphin Expressway near 107th Avenue, operating a radar gun, when an out of control car careened into him.
Investigators estimate the driver was speeding at more than 80 mph.
“It’s a day my family and I will never forget,” Rosario said Friday.
He has no real memory of being run over, of having nearly every bone in his body – from his jaw to both legs – being broken. Doctors call it “absolutely astounding” he survived.
“He was close to death numerous times,” said UHealth trauma surgeon, Dr. Carl Schulman. “Thanks to the grace of everybody who was involved, it just worked out extremely well.”
Rosario thanked fire rescue, the doctors, nurses and those closest to him for pulling him through.
“My beautiful wife Ana,” he said, clasping his wife’s hand. “And my family, who have wiped away my tears.”
His wife says theirs is a relationship that wasn’t ready to end.
“I’ve been with him for twenty seven years. We met in the eighth grade. He’s the perfect man for me,” Ana Rosario said.
The couple has two sons.
Rosario says his experience was living – if just barely living – proof of the dangers of texting and driving.
Hugo Olivares, the driver who ran over him, investigators say, was texting at the time.
“As a result, I’m a victim now,” said Rosario, adding that he holds no ill will against Olivares.
Investigators say Olivares looked up just in time to see the trooper, attempted to swerve, but sent his car into a spin, knocking Rosario into the air before ramming two highway patrol squad cars.
Olivares, 26, is charged with a felony charge of reckless driving causing serious bodily harm.
Rosario says he’s anxious to get back to being a state trooper.
“I know that the road to a full recovery is long,” he said.
FHP spokesman Trooper Joe Sanchez says Rosario faces at least a year in a rehabilitation center and more surgeries before he even gets to go home.
While Rosario’s salary and medical expenses are covered, he faces huge losses in overtime and off-duty work that he and other underpaid law enforcement officers need in order to support their families.
State troopers make among the lowest salaries of officers in the state. Many leave to join other agencies for better wages.
There has been a GoFundMe page established to help Rosario and his family. It has raised more than $76,000 so far. If you would like to contribute, click here to visit the webpage.