Boy, 19, who survived critical burns made honorary police officer

Boy, 19, who miraculously survived burns to 80 percent of his body and went blind is made honorary police officer in Texas

  • Zaid Garcia, from Texas, lost both his hands, eyes and right arm in a fire
  • Officers at Houston Police Department have now made him an honorary officer
  • READ MORE: Student, 24, graduates college after arson attack that killed five

A 19-year-old boy who miraculously survived a fire that left 80 percent of his body burnt has been made an honorary police officer in Texas.

Zaid Garcia, from Galveston, Texas, lost both his hands, eyes and right arm at the age of two after a candle fell onto his blankets while he was sleeping.

Doctors said he would never survive the fourth-degree burns — but after countless operations and skin grafts the toddler beats the odds.

And now officers in Texas have made a dream he has had ever since he was 10 years old come true by making him a member of their squad.

Zaid Garcia, from Galveston, Texas, has been made an honorary member of the police in the area. He said he had dreamed of this moment since he was ten years old

Zaid Garcia, from Galveston, Texas , lost both his hands, eyes and right arm at the age of two after a candle fell onto his blankets while he was sleeping. When he visited the police department, pictured, doctors gave him an honorary police officer uniform

He was thrilled to have achieved a dream he has had for ten years and said the day was one of the best of his life

Mr Garcia said: ‘I am so excited, really, I have no words.

‘This is like one of the best days of my life.’

‘I told her, mom, I think I can do it, you know, and to be honest I didn’t even believe it myself.’

He added: ‘Since my accident happened, I like to protect people. So my dream was kinda like to be a police officer.’

On a visit to Houston Police Department’s Academy in North Houston, officers presented him with a junior uniform — which made him jump up and down with excitement.

Their chief, Troy Finner, also gave him a certificate to officially make him an honorary member.

Texas student, 24, graduates college four years after being burned in arson attack 

Zachary Sutterfield, 24, graduated from Angelo State University on December 10, four years after sustaining a brain injury and burns to 70 percent of his body. 

And the force took him out onto their test track to learn how to make a traffic stop, take down a suspect and pull a car over.

‘Stop, I’m officer Garcia!’, he can be heard shouting while smiling during his test drive in pursuit of another car.

He was also asked to speak to the young cadets about his experience. 

He said, reports Click2Houston: ‘I ended up proving doctors wrong, too, you know.

‘They thought I could not make it, but here I am.’

Sergeant Jeremy Lahar said: ‘They really kind of make you take a step back and be appreciative of everything that you might take for granted on a daily basis.

‘Everybody who’s come in contact and had the pleasure of meeting him today has left better than before they met him.’

‘Officer Garcia’ visited the Academy in December last year for the presentation, but clips have recently re-surfaced on social media. 

Earlier this month, officer Garcia also posted a video of himself once again trying on his police uniform.

The day was made possible by social media personality Isaiah Garza, from Los Angeles, who organized the day after hearing about Mr Garcia’s story.

Mr Garcia suffered his injuries a decade and a half ago at the age of two when a candle set his blankets on fire as he slept in his bed.  

After the accident, Mr Garcia was flown from his home in Mexico to San Antonio, Texas, for treatment for his fourth degree burns, including countless surgeries, amputations and skin grafts, which ultimately saved his life.

The two-year-old lost both of his hands and five toes and his eyes were so severely burned that doctors covered them with skin to help them heal. He hopes to regain his sight and have the skin over his eyes removed and his eye lids reconstructed.

When Mr Garcia was released from hospital, his family settled in Texas, where he currently attends a school for the blind.

In 2019, he hit the headlines for raising money to help with surgeries and possibly restore his sight.

A GoFundMe page set up by non-profit organization Special Books for Special Kids set a goal of $60,000 — but supporters rallied behind him and donations quickly ballooned to more than $365,000.

A spokeswoman for the website said the donations were used to cover his ongoing medical expenses.

She said: ‘The fundraiser was started for Zaid’s ‘functional surgeries and then for potential reconstructive procedures’. 

‘All funds raised went directly to Zaid’s mother for Zaid’s ongoing medical expenses.’ 

The day was made possible by social media personality Isaiah Garza, from Los Angeles, who set it up after hearing Mr Garcia’s story

Mr Garcia is pictured above after being presented with a certificate making him an honorary member of the Houston police force

He is shown above with the force’s chief Troy Finner posing for a photograph

The teenager lost both of his hands and five toes, and his eyes were so severely burned surgeons covered them with skin to let them heal

He has been blind since the age of two after a candle caught fire to his blankets as he slept

Most people do not survive third-degree burns — which destroy two of the three layers of skin — affecting more than 50 percent of their body, and infants rarely survive burns that destroy more than 15 percent of their skin.

The survival chances are even lower for fourth-degree burns like Mr Garcia’s, which affect the bones, muscles and tissues.

Doctors say in cases where people do survive, the burns are so bad they need to amputate the affected limbs and perform multiple operations. Even then, people are still left with severe scarring and long term effects. 

At the time of the fundraiser, Mr Garcia said: ‘I’m sharing my story to inspire people and show them that miracles do exist.

‘When I was two-and-a-half my mom took me to bed and […] a candle fell and it caught on fire.

‘I was super injured. I’ve had so many operations now that I can’t even remember. I’ll probably have more skin grafts [in the future].

‘They amputated both my hands and they took the fingers too. I have both my legs and feet.’

He added: ‘The doctors shut my eyes under the skin. I don’t know why they didn’t just take them out – probably because they thought I would see in the future.

‘So my next hope is to get my vision back. I’ve been blind since the accident. If I was to have this surgery it would be the first time I’d see the world properly [since before the fire].’

Speaking about his childhood, Mr Garcia said: ‘It was hard growing up to be honest. People are scared of me because of the way I look and when I was young, I tried to commit suicide.

‘My mom told me that was not the right thing. I was finding it hard to fit in at school and make friends. I work hard to improve each day. I just want to be accepted.

‘When people meet my parents, my mom prepares them. She explains, ‘Hey, I have a child with disabilities’.

‘She prepares them. Of course, they get surprised, but [soon] they only care about my personality.

‘[When people meet me now], I hope that they think I’m interesting – that I’m easy to talk to. I like going out with friends and giving them time to talk with me if they need something.  

‘I like to sing and sometimes I write songs or poems. I love art and playing around with pencils. I have other interests, and I hope people see that when they meet me.’

Mr Garcia has overcome many obstacles throughout his life, but remains hopeful for the future, with his eyes now set on being a translator and motivational speaker.

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