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WEST PALM BEACH (CBSMiami) — A Florida Highway Patrol Trooper, who gave new meaning to the phrase “to protect and serve,” spoke to the media for the first time since saving a man’s life when an out-of-control car came careening towards them on the side of a highway.
“Thank you very much. God bless you. We are not friends, we are family,” said a very grateful Rony Bottex to Trooper Mithil Patel.
Then came a heart-felt hug as those in the crowd gave a round of applause.
On December 3, Patel was investigating a crash involving Bottex and another driver on I-95 near Hobe Sound. Patel was talking with Bottex on the side of the road when another car was involved in an accident.
That second accident caused a driver to lose control. A CBS news crew captured video of the accident, which went viral.
The video shows the trooper pushing Bottex out of the path of the spinning car before it slams into Patel and tosses him into the air like a ragdoll.
“I’m really grateful Mr. Bottex is not injured,” said Patel at the start of the news conference. “It started off as a first crash and ended up with a second crash. I’m hoping no more crashes for you. We’ll be there with you at all times sir,” said Patel.
Trooper Patel thanked his partners at the Florida Highway Patrol and his entire law enforcement family, the doctors and nurses who took care of him, and his entire family.
Patel is extremely grateful to be alive.
“I’d like to thank everybody who has sent prayers, to dispatch to the Major to me, all over the country. It was really great. The social media has been excellent. I just can’t thank you enough.” He added, “Thank you everyone and thank God.”
Bottex, who is 65-years old, is also grateful to Patel and all of law enforcement.
“I would like to thank every state trooper, every law enforcement officer, men and women, and especially for this special hero Trooper Patel.”
Bottex looked straight at Patel and said “Thank you”, then added, “We are not friends, we are family.”
Bottex’ daughter also spoke of his heroic actions.
“If it wasn’t for you being there that day, my father wouldn’t be here,” said Marilyn Bottex Wallace in tears Friday morning.
Trooper Patel also thanked the first people on scene including the tow truck driver. “He was the first one to see me do an Olympic-style roll. I didn’t land perfect unfortunately. I didn’t get a 10. I got a zero on that one. Guess I have to practice at home,” Patel joked.