McMinn County Deputy injured in texting crash speaks out about c - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

McMinn County Deputy injured in texting crash speaks out about career changes

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MCMINN COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -

The McMinn County deputy who was hit by a teen texting and driving back in June is still recovering from his injuries.

"I got over as far as I could get and just gripped the steering wheel as tight as I could and then closed my eyes and held on," said Deputy Randy Gabrel, McMinn County Sheriff's Dept.

In a matter of seconds McMinn County deputy Randy Gabrel's life was forever changed, when a teen texting and driving crashed into him head on.

"I never thought that that drive home would by my last time I would be on the road," said Deputy Gabrel.

Channel 3 has followed Deputy Gabrel's story for the last three months as he's been in intense physical therapy.

"The movement in it I've got the up and down, the side to side and the pivoting motions are not there. I struggled with it pretty bad. It's taken a while to get where I can talk about it without choking up."

Doctors had to place two permanent screws into the back of his right ankle. The injury will force him to retire his career on the streets patrolling. Deputy Gabrel says he still has trouble walking a straight line and getting in and out of his car.

"I'll never get to work the road as a patrolman anymore," said Deputy Gabrel.

Sheriff Joe Guys tells us Deputy Gabrel will likely be transferred to a corrections division to take a transport officer position.

"Looking ahead I'll still be in the law enforcement but I'll just be doing something different other than what I really love to do," said Gabrel.

The deputy tells Channel 3 he first put on his uniform at age 19 working 12 years in law enforcement. He says although every day is a struggle...if his story can make others think twice behind the wheel then there is comfort.

"It would just make everything I have gone through would be worth it," said Gabrel.

The 17-year-old involved in the crash, Nick Austin-- is having a final surgery Wednesday . He and Deputy Gabrel have become partners in Channel 3's Campaign against Texting and Driving. They travel to area schools with the crashed vehicles on a trailer to show people the impact of that decision.

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