A traffic stop along the Southwest Freeway overnight turned tragic for 24-year-old Houston police officer Nestor Garcia.
According to Houston Police Department, the incident occurred around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday as Officer Garcia was conducting a felony traffic stop in the southbound lanes of the Southwest Freeway near Dunlavy.
Police say an SUV traveling up to 60 miles per hour struck him as he stood in the road.
Doctors said Garcia suffered a variety of injuries including a head wound, abdominal injuries and fractures. At last check, Garcia was out of surgery, stable, but still critical.
“When you have so many internal injuries, you’ve got to just see what the next 24, 48, 72 hours will bring,” said HPD Chief Art Acevedo.
Officer Garcia was standing between two parked cruisers when 79-year-old Robert Zimmerman allegedly plowed right through. He was later charged with intoxication assault of a public servant.
“I’m just so sorry,” said neighbor Ken Weatherly.
Weatherly lives next door to Zimmerman, whose home isn’t far from the crash scene.
Records show Zimmerman has no criminal history in Harris County other than traffic citations.
“I would stand behind him 100 percent,” Weatherly said. “I would never guess that he was that kind of person that would hit somebody, being intoxicated or on drugs.”
Toxicology tests will reveal what Zimmerman may have been on at the time of the crash.
“The point is that anybody doing this recklessly in Houston, who causes this kind of damage is going to be arrested and prosecuted,” said District Attorney Kim Ogg.
Officer Garcia’s in-the-line-of-duty injury comes just a little more than a year after he joined HPD.
Chief Acevedo says Garcia’s family appreciates all of the thoughts and prayers.