A state trooper, who was nearly killed by a suspected drunk driver, returned to work Tuesday.
It was the first time back on the job for Trooper Chad Blackburn since the horrific crash on Labor Day 2016.
The walk into DPS Regional Headquarters in northwest Houston on Tuesday morning was one Trooper Blackburn had been striving toward for nearly a year.
It was a long-awaited end of a long recovery fueled by the many of the same people waiting for him at the finish line.
"I knew it was gonna happen,” said Trooper Blackburn. "Because of everyone's help, I'm here today."
The 11-year veteran of DPS says he’s grateful to the co-workers, family members, and total strangers from around the country who gave him their time, money, and prayers after the crash that nearly took his life.
During the early morning hours on Labor Day 2016, Trooper Blackburn was parked along I-45 and Nasa Road 1 looking for drunk drivers. That's when prosecutors say a woman whose blood alcohol level was nearly four times the legal limit plowed into the Trooper's patrol vehicle at more than 100 miles per hour.
The trooper says that was the start of a long, painful and “mentally and physically” challenging recovery. The toughest part? Being confined to a bed for more than a month, an experience Blackburn says took reminded him of his time working in a state prison.
"I found myself (going through) what I had seen those inmates going through,” he said.
Now the trooper is turning those hardships into a teaching tool. He urges people to plan their ride home before they start drinking for the night and using his story as inspiration to get back in the driver's seat and keep moving forward, no matter how difficult the road has been.
Trooper Blackburn says although his wife and two children were nervous about him returning, they gave him their blessing. He believes whatever hesitations he has about coming back will fade quickly. He says he’s looking most forward to helping the community that helped him so much through his recovery.
The case involving the crash is still open. The suspect, 31-year-old Tuwanna Moore, is out on bond on an Intoxication Assault charge and due in court Sept. 13.