Officer in wheelchair shares perspective after crash

Posted at: 04/08/2014 10:28 PM
By: Ryan Luby, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Life is about learning new perspectives.

But a new perspective nearly killed Corrales police officer Jeremy Romero.

“I remember waking up, looking around me, then looking down at both of my legs and both of my legs pretty much exploded,” Romero said.

In late January, the officer crashed his cruiser after chasing two people in a stolen vehicle on Corrales Road.  Romero’s speed topped 80 mph.  The suspects topped 100 mph.  Romero said the stolen vehicle kicked up a cloud of dust causing him to lose sight of the road.  He hit a support cable for a utility pole and flipped.

This husband, and father of 9-year-old Jeremy, ended up in the hospital undergoing emergency surgery.  His 13-year career in law enforcement has temporarily come to an end.

“It's pretty much like my spinal cord bone blew up,” Romero said.

He just returned from a hospital in Denver after he underwent intense physical therapy for more than two months.  But the trouble is not over.  It just began.

“People take life for granted every day; I'm one that did take life for granted thinking that nothing would ever happen to me, but it hit me pretty hard that I may never walk again,” Romero said.

He said his doctors won’t know for roughly two years if he’ll be able to walk.  But he said they successfully patched up his spinal column by using part of a rib and a bone graft from his hip.

Romero has a lot of support from his family and friends.  He also has support of Jeffrey Lurie, the longtime owner of the Philadelphia Eagles – Romero’s favorite football team.

In a letter, Lurie said the team is thinking of Romero and sending him positive thoughts.

Lurie thanked Romero for being a dedicated fan.

“We are all big fans of yours as well.  Keep your head up and your spirits high,” Lurie wrote.

The Eagles also sent Romero a football autographed by Michael Vick.

Romero said his friends at Nutrishop in New Mexico had contacted the Eagles about the crash and his recovery.

Outside of the positive support from those who care for him, Romero also found positivity within himself by holding no ill will toward the suspects in the chase.

“I forgive them.  I hope they get the help that they need,” he said.

He said his new perspective on life is necessary for him to fully recover.

“I look at it now, it's more of a marathon rather than a sprint,” Romero said.

Police arrested the two suspects in the crash days and weeks later, respectively.  The driver, Casey Williams, and her passenger, Aaron Wozniak, faces charges.  Wozniak was supposed to appear in court on Tuesday for arraignment, but failed to appear.

There’s a 5K walk for Romero and his family this coming Saturday from 10 a.m. until noon.  It’s at Albuquerque Academy. Be sure to park at the Hoffmantown Curch. Donations are $10 per person.