'It was like learning how to walk again': OPP officer with prosthetic leg back on patrol
Const. Pete Tucker was seriously hurt when his motorcycle struck a goose in 2014
It may be a cliché, but for Ontario Provincial Police Const. Pete Tucker, "appreciating the small things in life you didn't appreciate before" rings true after a traumatizing incident like his.
In June 2014, Tucker's motorcycle struck a goose during a training exercise north of Barrie, Ont., leaving him seriously injured and causing him to lose his leg.
With over 24 years on the job, Tucker said he had the option to retire — but that wasn't in the cards. "It's my job that makes me happy. It's the only job I've known, all I want to do," Tucker said.
Now, the 45-year-old is back at work full-time and says he couldn't be happier.
"I love my job and I'm so glad to be back at it," Tucker said.
But the road to recovery hasn't been easy.
Tucker was wearing a vest and a helmet when the goose crossed in front of his motorcycle, and he was unable to avoid the bird. And while the protective gear helped prevent other injuries, he now has to use a prosthetic.
Speaking about the accident now, he says he can barely remember the days leading up to it, and several weeks afterward as well.
"It's shocking because it's one of the most important events in my life but I have no recollection," Tucker said. "The only reason I know this happened at all is because other cops told me."
Tucker received the prosthetic leg in October 2016 — which he refers to as "the Cadillac of prosthetics" — adding he's grateful he was covered by WSIB. He says the first six months were shaky.
"It's like learning how to walk again," he said, adding he couldn't have recovered the way he did without the support of his wife and his four kids.
"It doesn't help me climb stairs or run, it senses what I'm doing and adapts to me."
Once a year the prosthetic is sent to Germany for computer updates or equipment replacements, and he gets a loaner.
"People take care of my leg, and take care of me," Tucker said with a smile.
'The OPP took care of me'
Tucker says he's had the reaction of laughter when people hear a goose caused the accident, but he doesn't hold it against anyone.
"I'll be honest with you, it sounds ridiculous," Tucker said. "It's such a dumb story. No one knows what to do with it at first."
Tucker went back to work part time at the crime unit in January 2015, and says he was itching from the beginning to do more.
"The OPP took care of me, I wanted to work and they let me work," he said.
Tucker kept pushing himself further, and was constantly asking when he could perform his block training — which is annual training officers complete to refresh various skills on the job.
"I wanted to go full time right away, but my wife and OPP were right to tell me to slow down."
Tucker returned to the job full time on Nov. 16, 2017 spending his time out on the road, answering calls, working nights and doing traffic. He also does public speaking to give others hope.
"I got as close to being back to myself as I could. It's possible for anyone else."