2017-06-15 / Top News

Deputy saved by ballistic vest 11 years ago joins survivors’ club

SPECIAL TO FLORIDA WEEKLY


Cpl. William Pschigoda with the SafariLand Armorwear Gold II 4.0 ballistic vest he still wears on duty today. 
COURTESY PHOTO Cpl. William Pschigoda with the SafariLand Armorwear Gold II 4.0 ballistic vest he still wears on duty today. COURTESY PHOTO A Collier County deputy who spent 17 months recovering after a fleeing suspect struck him with his vehicle in 2006 is now among the nearly 2,000 law enforcement officers who credit their survival in part to a type of ballistic vest they were wearing at the time.

Cpl. William Pschigoda was recently inducted into the SafariLand Group’s SAVES Club. He has worn his SafariLand Armorwear Gold II 4.0 ballistic vest since he first joined the force more than 30 years ago and said he learned that habit from veteran deputies who showed him the ropes.

“Their words saved my life, and I am forever grateful for what they taught me,” he said.

Cpl. Pschigoda was working road patrol in East Naples in December 2006 when a reckless driver refused to stop for deputies trying to pull him over, leading them on a chase instead. Cpl. Pschigoda had gotten out of his cruiser to lay down Stop Sticks at the intersection of Tamiami Trail East and Collier Boulevard when the man approached in his vehicle, swerved to miss the Stop Sticks and struck Cpl. Pschigoda while travelling at 80 mph.

The force of the crash sent Cpl. Pschigoda flying into the air. He landed on the hood of the fleeing vehicle, which drove an additional 200 feet before falling to the side of the road.

Paramedics who were already on scene began administering first aid immediately, reviving Cpl. Pschigoda before he was flown to Lee Memorial Hospital with a laceration on his face and a skull fracture. Doctors would later learn he had a hole in his temple and would face years of recovery. One predicted he would never be able to work in law enforcement again.

Cpl. Pschigoda defied expectations, returning to the force just one year and five months later, following extensive rehabilitation to regain even the most basic functions including how to walk and speak clearly.

Today, he remains an active member of the agency, working in the East Naples district. And he still wears his vest. ¦

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