2017-02-17 / Neighbors
Back in the ranks
Officer Carney returns to work eight months after motorcycle crash
The 44-year-old Simi Valley resident, who was critically injured in a June 2016 crash, said he reached a recovery milestone last week when he came back to work, albeit to light duty for now.
“Right now I’m working at the desk. . . . I have one more surgery and then physical therapy, so once the doctor signs off on that, I’m hoping to be back to full duty and on a motorcycle by July or August at the latest,” Carney told the Simi Valley Acorn this week. “That’s a year and a month since the accident, and I think it’s a very obtainable goal.”
Carney was on duty and traveling south on Tapo Canyon Road around 5 p.m. June 15 when a small pickup truck turned in front of him near the Los Angeles Avenue intersection. He collided with the truck and was thrown from his motorcycle. He was taken to Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks with life-threatening injuries and underwent more than 25 hours of surgery over his 38-day stay.
During the Rotary Club of Simi Valley’s noon meeting Tuesday, Interim Police Chief David Livingstone welcomed Carney back to light duty and presented him with a new badge.
Livingstone told the group of over 30 Rotarians that Carney’s badge was “literally destroyed, obliterated and bent into a U-shape” in the collision.
“The badge is a symbol of everything a police officer stands for and it’s . . . very important and special,” the interim chief said. “One of the things Tom was concerned about in the months after the accident was that he didn’t have his badge.
“So, Tom, we got your badge redone for you and I want to present it here to you . . . and welcome you back to the police department,” Livingstone said, directing his comments to the officer.
Carney thanked the crowd and the community for the “overwhelming” support he and his family received in the months following his accident.
“It’s nice to be back to work and I can’t wait to get back out on the streets and for all of you to see my smiling face dressed like my cohorts,” he said. “I’m ready to get back into training and on a motorcycle so that I can start zipping around again.”
Over the past several months, Carney said, he underwent “extremely painful” physical therapy due to a broken pelvis, two broken arms and facial and internal injuries.
“The healing process was very slow, and I had my good days and my bad days. But once I got past the pain, I was able to really start working hard on my physical therapy,” the 14-year SVPD motor officer said in an interview.
“The hardest part is getting my endurance back up because the first thing that comes back is your mobility, but then you have to build your strength and then endurance,” he continued. “Being back on light duty does help with the endurance because it’s forcing me to get into a habit of getting up and down at the desk and out of the house. Every day gets better.”
Carney said the support from his wife, his family and the community has helped him pull through the “traumatic situation.”
Getting his badge back Tuesday meant a lot to him, he said.
“When (Livingstone) talked about how my badge was devastated, he wasn’t overreacting. The physical force of how my chest hit whatever it did literally bent my badge and tore it off,” he said. “It was pretty devastating to see this symbol of my job that I’ve been doing for so long destroyed. To get a new one is really special.”
Cmdr. Robert Arabian, who oversees SVPD’s traffic division, said he’s looking forward to going back to patrol with his fellow officer.
“We’ve known each other for many years and we also live three houses from each other. And when the accident happened, it threw me into a whole other world because someone I love and care about got hurt,” he said. “Now to have him back in the building is a thrill for me.”
Livingstone said SVPD is like a big family. When something happens to a member, they are “intent on getting them back,” he said.
“Police officers go to work with the primary goal of getting home in one piece. Fortunately, we got Tom back,” he said. “With the things that have gone on with law enforcement nationwide over the last year, a lot of families don’t have that. We’re very fortunate and happy to have him back.”
Mayor Bob Huber said he admires Carney and is very proud of him.
“When he was in the hospital, people didn’t think he was going to make it. But he did, and he’s here today,” the mayor said.