Dade Co. Sheriff's Major Tommy Bradford begins road to recovery
It has been quite a month for Dade County Sheriff’s Major Tommy Bradford. After losing part of his leg while trying to stop a speeding burglary suspect, he has undergone several operations and physical therapy, and returned home last week to a hero’s welcome. He and his family are now coping with his injuries, and his plans for the future.
Bradford's main focus is his leg, and preparing for a prosthetic. But he also is recovering from injuries to his chest, arm, hand, and shoulder. As he looks outside, he sees home projects to complete, grass to mow, and roads to patrol. The Dade County Sheriff’s Major is adapting to a new lifestyle, and new challenges.
"Having my home jobs done by other people, well that’s not something I’m used to," he said. "I'm looking forward to getting out there again."
On August 7, Bradford lost part of his leg while laying spike strips along Highway 11 just south of Trenton. He was hit by a driver on the run, suspected of committing a crime in DeKalb County, Alabama. It was a moment he will re-live the rest of his life. "I wish the timing had been better, but I would do it all over again," he said. "At least no one else got hurt, and that was the main goal."
Bradford’s injuries were life-threatening and life-changing. Quick medical attention, and a series of surgeries, followed by intense physical rehab, allowed him to return home within a month, to a hero’s welcome. It has all happened so fast, he’s still coming to grips with what happened, and what lies ahead.
He and his wife Mary Ann have six children, including a one-year-old. "Right now my wife is taking care of a one year old baby, and (referring to himself) this 44-year-old baby." He added, "I'm looking forward to relieving the pressure off her."
In the days immediately after he was injured, the 25-year officer figured it was time to retire. He was concerned about his loss of mobility. But during his recovery, he reconsidered, and decided to stay on the job. He said, "I just felt like I’d put in my time, but after thinking it over and seeing the folks here, it seemed like a selfish decision."
Bradford’s wife Mary Ann credits his can-do attitude with speeding up the healing process. "He has a positive spirit, a positive outlook, and as for us, we are thankful that he's even here, that's the main thing," she said.
Although he has survived the hardest part, he knows there is a long way to go. Chores once taken for granted are out of the question, for now. But he is determined to continue serving a community he has long called home, and to repay the citizens of Dade County for their love.
During the next few days, Bradford begins a series of medical appointments for various surgeries and procedures. He says there’s still plenty of work to do, in his role with the Dade County Sheriff’s Department, and he’s handling many of the tasks at home until he’s able to return to the road.
He says he is also very thankful for friends and strangers who have built a ramp to his house, and made modifications inside the house to aid his mobility. He says one "silver lining" is that all Dade County officers now have a tourniquet kit in their vehicles in case others are ever in need of one.