“Trooper Swartz rose to the challenge earlier in his life when he became a New York state trooper by surpassing the requirements at one of the most challenging police academies in the nation,” said Butler. “After his accident, Matt wasn’t interested in a desk job. He rose to the challenge of becoming the first-ever amputee to return to active patrol duty in the history of New York state.”
Swartz was gravely injured in an off-duty car accident in November 2004, in which he suffered skull fractures, brain injuries, a broken right arm, crushed left foot and a severed artery in his left leg. The accident left him in a coma for more than five weeks; when he awoke, Swartz found one of his legs had to be amputated because of severe gangrene. He was temporarily unable to focus his eyes, unable to hear out of his left ear, and had a tracheotomy and facial paralysis that prevented him from speaking.
“But Trooper Swartz displayed exemplary courage by making it his goal to return to active duty. One year later, he was again patrolling New York’s highways and protecting us from harm,” concluded Butler. “Through Matt’s positive attitude, determination and optimism toward his recovery, he reminds us all that we can successfully navigate and overcome our own challenges to discover the indomitable spirit within.”
Trooper Swartz, since his accident, has gone on to compete in the:
- Adirondack Sprintacular 5K run to raise scholarship money for handicapped and disabled college students
- Wounded Warrior Project at Windham Mountain, where he skis with disabled soldiers
- Northeastern Police Ski Championship at Whiteface Mountain
- New York State Police and Fire Games, where he earned medals for sharp-shooting.
Also, Swartz participates in horse show competitions, where he has earned medals, ribbons and awards. Trooper Swartz serves out of the Mayfield barracks in Fulton County. He was joined at the ceremony by his wife Allison.