South Dakota Highway Patrol Trooper Andrew Steen's condition was considered ‘touch and go’ just 18 months ago, but he has overcome all the major obstacles in his way and is now behind the wheel of his patrol car again.
Steen suffered a traumatic brain injury and a serious leg injury after he was run over by a repeat drunk driver in a shopping center parking lot in Sioux Falls in October 2012.
"It wasn't an easy task to get back to work, but now that I'm back, it seems like I never left," Steen said.
Steen was focused on getting back to the South Dakota Highway Patrol before he even left the hospital.
"Everyone else just wanted Andrew to get better; just heal and take some time and get better and do what is right for your body, but Andrew was always talking about work. He always wanted to leave the hospital, as great as they were treating him there, he just was ready to go home," South Dakota Highway Patrol Captain Alan Welsh said.
After going through months of physical and mental testing, Steen had to retake firearms and field training in order to resume active duty with the Highway Patrol. Steen also had to go through therapy and work desk duty at the Highway Patrol for months before his return. In February, he reached his ultimate goal of patrolling South Dakota roads again.
"I missed being out in the car and on the road so it kind of gave me a little bit more motivation I guess to hurry up and get better and get back to work," Steen said.
Steen also has lasting scars from the early morning he was run over in a Sioux Falls parking lot. He can't hear out of one ear. He can't smell and he will likely develop arthritis in his injured leg at an early age.
But despite the life-threatening injuries he received in the line of duty, Steen says there was never any apprehension about getting behind the wheel.
"No, not for me. I know my wife is probably a little bit worried. If I show up five minutes late getting home, she's worried, but no, it just feels like it was two years ago," Steen said.
Two years that have been filled with challenges as Steen worked to return to the road.
Trooper Steen recently found out he does have a stress fracture in his injured foot and will likely have to return to desk duty until it’s healed.
We will ride along with Steen and bring you more of his story in tonight's Eye on KELOLAND at 10.