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Police Officer to be Laid to Rest

by Elizabeth Ruiz

A San Antonio  police officer who survived life-threatening injuries when he was struck by a drunk driver 10 years ago is being remembered for his courage and dedication.

Officer Mario Valdez defied the odds when he returned to the force. 

"He came back to full duty from that, even when people thought he would never come back to work," said Detective Mike Helle with the San Antonio Police Officers Association.

Helle  told 550 KTSA News that Valdez suffered severe head injuries and broken bones and went through a year of rehabilitation to learn how to walk again.

"There was nothing that was going to stop Mario from doing what he loved.  He loved putting on his uniform and serving the community," said Helle.

In 2007, Valdez fell into a creek and ingested stagnant water while chasing a suspect.  Helle says he suffered severe respiratory problems and various illnesses after that. 

He became seriously ill and slipped into a coma last spring, but even then, he recovered and went back to work.

"His survival stories and the struggles he endured are just incredible," said Helle.

Last Friday, Valdez  died at Metropolitan Methodist Hospital at the age of 43.  He's survived by his wife, Tracy, and three sons.  

A mass is scheduled at 11 a.m. Thursday at St. Paul's Catholic Church and  Valdez will be buried at San Fernando  Cemetery No. 3.

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People : Elizabeth RuizMario ValdezMike HelleTracy
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