MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A Miami Police Officer says he is determined to get back to work, despite losing both of his legs in a terrible accident.
“You’re alive. There’s a chance. It’s that simple.” That is the motivated attitude that keeps Miami Officer Mario Gonzalez persevering.
After a motorcycle crash, he is alive to tell his story, but now he is learning how live again without his legs.
Officer Gonzalez was overcome with emotion, telling himself he will be able to get back to the activities he loves, like skateboarding.
“I’m going to ride them again,” he vows.
The accident happened while he was off-duty on February 3, 2019 on SW 8th Street, near Krome Avenue.
An avid bike rider, he was on his way to a track in Naples. The car in front of him came to an abrupt stop. When he slowed down, the vehicle behind him did not and pushed him into oncoming traffic. He was hit by a car head-on.
“When I woke up I was in bad shape,” he remembers.
“I was without my legs. I had all kinds of metal in my waist and stuff coming out of my chest. I had all these IV’s, all these surgeries. I was like, ‘What happened?’ I don’t remember it being that bad,” he says.
WATCH: ENTIRE INTERVIEW WITH OFFICER MARIO GONZALEZ
When he came to the realization he lost his legs, he says the first stage was accepting this “new normal.”
“It was a big shock. It gets you down. That’s the low point. That’s when the people around you get you going again. That’s when the friends and family– the people who have been through it– they show you can still go on.”
He says it is nothing short of a miracle that he is here today.
Responding officers applied tourniquets to each leg. His injuries, however, were so severe; he was still losing a lot of blood and fast.
Then the motorcycle catches fire and that is when he says something amazing happened.
“This gentleman sees the smoke and he gets in his car, and he drove 13 miles to the accident scene. He had been taking life-saving training and how to use a tourniquet, and he had a tourniquet in his car. He brought it over and put it on the other leg,” he says. “That probably saved my life.”
Now he wants to share the message that whatever you may be going through, the story is not over.
“I think as human beings we are supposed to change and adapt,” Gonzalez explains. “You just have to do it, otherwise you would be out of the game, and I am not going to be out of the game. I am going to be back at work. I am going to work like any other police officer. I am going to continue serving my community. I’ve been doing that for 13 years, and I am not about to give up.”
His family, wife, daughters, and law enforcement family have all been by his side. People in the community have been showing their support too through emergency blood drives and fundraisers all to be strong for Mario.
“You can’t thank people enough for the support,” Gonzalez says humbly. “There’s just no way of doing that. I hope my ‘thank you’ can be when I am standing, when I am working again. That could be the ‘thank you’ I could give.”
Now, he is in the process of getting prosthetics. His first thought was that they needed to be waterproof in the event he may need to save someone in the water.
“We have the Miami River through some of the areas we work and Key Biscayne, so that’s the first thing that comes to mind. I might have to get in there.”
Even when in need of help himself, Officer Mario Gonzalez puts the needs of others first, demonstrating his true heart for the community he serves.
“Things happen, he says. Sometimes you don’t really know why. Maybe there’s a purpose. I know God didn’t do this just so I could skip the line at Disney World or get some bulletproof legs! You know, maybe there’s something more to me.”
There is a Go Fund Me account set up for Mario’s medical expenses if you’d like to help.