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Washington County deputy shares journey to recovery after crash last April

Deputy Mike Trotter was responding to a call when a car full of teenagers hit his patrol SUV while going close to 100 mph. The crash killed two of the teenagers.

BEAVERTON, Ore. — It's been nearly nine months since Washington County Sheriff's Office Deputy Mike Trotter survived a life-changing crash.

As he stood and waited for his drink to be made at a coffee shop, Trotter winced in pain.

"I'm in such excruciating pain, it's not even enjoyable. Coming to this coffee shop is about as far as I can get by myself," he said.

That coffee shop is only a few minutes away from his home.

Trotter said the pain he feels now has limited his mobility and strength after what had been "just any other routine day on graveyard."

On April 27, 2022, Trotter had started his graveyard shift at 5 p.m. the night before. He said the beginning part of that shift was routine, responding to dispatch calls and patrolling traffic. Then just after midnight, a call had come in from dispatch.

"I remember our dispatch telling us that one of the bars had called in saying that there was a drunk driver leaving and described the car," Trotter said.

As Trotter drove to that location, a different car, a Nissan Altima with five teenagers inside, was headed straight towards his path.

RELATED: Washington County deputy released from hospital six weeks after deadly crash

"I remember one of our K-9 handlers getting on the radio saying that, what he believed was that car almost hit him head on and he turned around to stop it," he said.

That was the last thing he remembers.

It was just after midnight and Trotter was headed east on Tualatin-Valley Highway, just west of the Murray Boulevard intersection. The Altima was headed south on Murray towards Trotter's path.

Trotter said he was told the Altima was travelling around 100 mph when the driver ran a red light and hit him on the driver's side of his patrol SUV.

The crash killed two of the teenagers in the Altima, 17-year-old Matthew Amaya and 16-year-old Juan Aguilera. The driver of the Altima, 18-year-old Xavier Denzel Rodriguez, and two other passengers were critically injured.

Rodriguez was charged with DUII and multiple counts of manslaughter and assault. He's currently awaiting trial in Washington County.

Looking back on the crash and the photo of his smashed up SUV, Trotter knows he's lucky.

"I've been at hundreds of those crashes and I don't know how I'm alive," he said.

He said he remembers waking up a week or two later in the hospital.

 "I remember at one point, telling myself it would just be so much easier to die right now. Like, this sucks," Trotter said.

But it was his 3 year-old son, Harley, that kept him going.

"I wouldn't do it because it wouldn't be fair for him," Trotter said.

After the crash, he spent 41 days at Legacy Emanuel Hospital in north Portland. He was moved to a rehab center and spent weeks recovering and then went home around the beginning of July. 

"I broke both bones in my right arm. My pelvis on the left side was completely shattered. Due to that injury, I have a bunch of damage to my sciatic nerve on my left side," Trotter said. "It's been really hard. Just recently, I've been able to get around without either a walker or wheelchair. That's recent within the past month or two."

A GoFundMe page that was created to support Trotter's recovery raised more than $116,000.

His days are filled with physical therapy, doctor's appointments and spending time with his wife, Heather, and their son, Harley. Trotter said he can't hold Harley yet; his muscles are too weak to pick him up.

"When I was first injured, he wanted to build Legos with me and I couldn't do that. I couldn't even build Legos with my kid. Stuff like that was tough." Trotter said.

He said doctors told him his career as a law enforcement officer is likely over, but he works each day to prove them wrong. His long-term goal is get back out there and serve the community he's been working in for nearly a decade.

Trotter has been with the Washington County Sheriff's Office since 2013 and has been a full-time patrol deputy since 2015, the sheriff's office said.  

"That's also been a stressor, the uncertainty of mine and my family's future because I potentially lost my career," he said.

Trotter said he's working to finish his Associates Degree and that the sheriff's office has been very supportive in his recovery. They are trying to find a position for him when he gets his strength back.

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