Farmington Police Officer Returns to Patrol After Being Struck by Fleeing Vehicle

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A Farmington police officer is back on patrol Monday.

Tuesday, Sept. 20, marks one year since Officer James O’Donnell was seriously hurt when he was hit by a fleeing vehicle.

For his first patrol shift, he was surprised with a welcome back celebration as he walked out of the front door of the Farmington police station to his patrol car. Colleagues, police and firefighters from surrounding towns who responded to O'Donnell's crash lined up to greet him.

“I can’t even express the gratitude. I mean, I got choked up,” O’Donnell said.

These are steps that would have seemed so farfetched for O’Donnell one year ago.

“I had to relearn how to walk,” said O’Donnell, who was struck while he was responding to a call for a catalytic converter theft.

“My sacrum was shattered, my pelvis was fractured in four places, and I had two broken bones in my foot as well,” said O'Donnell, who described his recovery as a slow, and trying process, with lots of surgeries.

But on Monday, he works his first 12-hour patrol shift since that fateful day.

“I told the chief, right then and there in the emergency room, that I was coming back. And I wasn’t going against the promise," O'Donnell said.

“In a day when some people don’t really want to work, this is a guy who worked tirelessly to get back to what he loved to do,” said Farmington Police Chief Colin Ryan.

O’Donnell will clock out in the morning just a couple hours to the year when he was hit by a car.

“My phone, when I was an inpatient all the way through just hanging out on light duty, never stopped blowing up. All of my coworkers checking up on me, making sure I was good. It was the reason I wanted to come back,” O’Donnell said.

He says it was these people: his colleagues, the community, his wife and two young kids, too, that supported him and motivated him to get back to work.

One step at a time, “It’s an amazing feeling just to get through all of this," he said.

In the days following the hit and run, Pedro Acevedo was arrested and charged for hitting O’Donnell.

Acevedo remains in custody and has yet to enter a plea.

A lawyer representing him tells us, “We wish O’Donnell well.”

Farmington Police say an investigation into the case still continues, but on Monday, the focus was celebration.

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