SAN ANTONIO --
San Antonio police Officer Mike Thornton has given himself a new nickname -- Robocop -- given he will likely be fitted with a prosthetic right leg to replace what was lost early Saturday morning when a suspected drunken driver plowed into him on Interstate 35 and South Laredo Street.
Thornton's family, friends and colleagues in uniform waited at Brooke Army Medical Center, where he was said to be in great spirits, having cheated death a second time.
"(He's) laughing and joking as he usually does," said Ed Eisenbeck, the chief of the Camelot Volunteer Fire Department in Northeast Bexar County.
Eisenbeck said before Thornton joined the San Antonio Police Department in 2008, he was a Camelot volunteer firefighter and later Eisenbeck's second in command for about five years. He said when Thornton asked to sign up, he "came here still in bandages from his IED blast" that earned him a Purple Heart during his lengthy recovery at BAMC.
His badly burned hands are why Thornton came up with his first nickname, Scorch, Eisenbeck said.
He said Thornton doesn't know the meaning of the word quit.
"He's done a lot and he's not done yet," Eisenbeck said of his former assistant chief, who he also considers his best friend.
A certified paramedic, a soldier, a firefighter and a police officer, and now a survivor twice over, Eisenbeck said Thornton is inspiring, given he's not even 30 years old.
He said he also admires Thornton's outlook.
Eisenbeck said Thornton's family is grateful for the outpouring of support from the community. He said Thornton, who has a daughter, also is determined to return to police work, "his childhood dream."
Eisenbeck said Thornton called him from his hospital bed to tell him what had happened. Later, he said they talked about the alleged drunken driver who nearly cost him his life as he stood outside his patrol car assisting some stranded motorists.
He said Thornton doesn't blame anyone.
Eisenbeck said Thornton told him, "I made the decision to be a police officer, and this comes with it."
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