SMPD chief calls it ‘a miracle’ after officer survived hit by suspected drunk driver
San Marcos police chief Chase Stapp believes it’s a miracle that SMPD officer Claudia Cormier survived being struck by an SUV Saturday night.
Cormier, a three-year SMPD veteran, responded to a traffic hazard call around 9:45 p.m. on Saturday near mile marker 202 on northbound Interstate 35. Moments later she was struck by a 2000 Ford Expedition. The impact from the vehicle severed Cormier’s right leg, Stapp said.
A nurse, who works at Ascension Seton-Hays Medical Center, stopped to render aid before officers could arrive to the scene. The nurse applied three makeshift tourniquets out of T-shirt material to stop Cormier’s bleeding, which likely saved her life, Stapp said.
Officers, including Cormier’s husband who's also an SMPD officer and was on duty Saturday, arrived to the scene and applied three more tourniquets before emergency medical services transported her to Seton-Hays, where she underwent surgery.
“Several things have fallen in place that essentially has saved Claudia’s life,” Stapp said. “It’s nothing short of a miracle that these things have happened …The surgeon who worked on her that night said unequivocally that the tourniquet on her right leg saved her life. She most likely wouldn’t have made it to the operating table had it not been for tourniquets.
“So, we’re extremely proud of not only our personnel and the training and equipment that they have but also of that nurse who stopped and probably saved her life.”
Texas Department of Public Safety troopers arrested the driver of the Expedition — Neil Sheehan, 58 of Flower Mound — at the scene for intoxication assault on a public servant, a second-degree felony, and failure to slow causing serious bodily injury. Sheehan was taken to the Hays County Jail and was later released on bail.
“Accidents like this are preventable,” Stapp said. “There’s a law in place intended to prevent accidents like this. And that is when you see a police vehicle or a tow truck pulled over on the shoulder of a roadway, you’re supposed to vacate the lane closest to that vehicle or slow down 20 mph the posted speed limit if you cannot vacate the lane. I want to plead with people to please do that … It also goes without saying that it’s not safe, it’s never safe to drink and drive.”
Cormier regained consciousness Monday for the first time since the accident. Stapp said she’s doing as well as can be expected. Stapp received a FaceTime call from Cormier Monday night, where she told him she will be back.
“Claudia has wanted to be a police officer for most of her life,” Stapp said. “... and began working as a dispatcher for us in 2007. She tested to be a police officer multiple times and she had everything that it took but she just needed to pass a physical agility test and she got better every time and never lost hope and she was finally successful in doing that. I’ve seen her determination and dedication. So, I think we’re about to see exactly how dedicated and how determined she is.”
A donation account has been set up for Cormier at Randolph Brooks Federal Credit Union. Donations can be made online or at the nearest branch using the account number — 208695903. SMPD is also taking donations by cash or check at its headquarters at 2300 I-35.