Police officer returns to duty two years after car accident where he lost his leg

A San Mateo police officer is sharing his story in hopes of others going through difficult times. 

He lost part of his leg after a car accident two years ago.

Officer Carlos Basurto found the strength to regain his confidence and physical ability to do his job as a peace officer.

He said his journey was difficult and there were dark moments.

But in his words, he "pushed through it."

For the first time in almost two years, Officer Basurto is back on the job this week, patrolling the streets.

Armed with determination and the help of a prosthetic leg, he's now able  to do the police work he loves.

"I just needed to get back. It's something internal that was pushing me," said Basurto. 

In June 2018, the officer was on his way home  in the Central Valley after a 12-hour-shift when he got involved in a life-changing accident.

While driving his SUV, Basurto fell asleep at the wheel. When he woke up, he said he was about to hit another car so he made a sharp turn, rolling his SUV multiple times.

He suffered serious injuries.

"It's hard still. I take pride in making sure my family is taken care of. For me not to be able to do that was a huge hit to my confidence," said Basurto. 

The 41-year-old tells me his darkest day came after his left leg was amputated from the knee down.

But a fellow officer who started a nonprofit to help veterans  gave him the support he needed.

That officer was among those who helped Basurto get into the physical shape needed to return to police work.

"The most difficult part is mental and emotional," said the officer.

Basurto said he's grateful for the support he received from his fellow officers, the community and his family including his older brother, a detective also with San Mateo Police.

"For him to receive that kind of assistance is tough," said Detective Jaime Basurto about his younger brother. 

Tuesday was the officer's first day back on the job.

Police Chief Ed Barberini said Basurto had to pass the same physical tests as required of other officers to resume his duties. 

"Carlos earned every bit of this. It requires a great deal of determination, a great deal of diligence and a no-quit attitude from carlos himself." 

The 15-year-veteran police officer has a message for anyone who's facing difficulties,"You're gonna have your days. That's normal. You gotta find that strength within. 

KTVU asked the officer what it was like to return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He said he's saddened by the loss of lives. But he found joy in knowing that people are coming together to persevere.