Learning how to walk again is not the adventure Gary and Cindy Antagnini thought they would ever take together.
The avid motorcyclists lost their left legs in a head-on motorcycle crash while driving winding roads in Hays County in September. Since then, it’s been one operation after another.
“It shattered her pelvis. [The accident] cracked the top of each side of her hips,” said Gary Antagnini of his wife’s injuries. “They put Humpty Dumpty and the wife back together again.”
On the day of the wreck, there was an off-duty officer who drove onto the scene on County Road 136 minutes after the Antagninis smashed into a Jeep that crossed the center line.
“They put Humpty Dumpty and the wife back together again.”
The couple wanted to meet the officer who stopped to help. But, because of their surgeries and rehabilitation schedule, they struggled to establish a day and time for a face-to-face meeting.
“One day that might be kind of cool,” said Gary.
He didn’t know that his family and the hospital staff had arranged the meeting Thursday morning.
“Good morning,” he said to an officer standing inside the rehab room door.
“Hello,” said Senior Officer James Turner. “Y’all don’t remember me.”
Cindy recognized him. Soon after, Gary did, too.
“You’re the man we’re always talking about,” said Gary.
Turner, an Austin Police Department officer, was headed to meet a friend on Sept. 23, when he came upon the accident. He had a tourniquet kit in his car for a few years; he put it there shortly after taking a police safety course.
“Right out of that training course, I went out and got a tourniquet kit and started carrying it with me on a daily basis,” Turner said.
After the crash, Turner tied up Gary’s leg to stop the bleeding. Another off-duty officer, who had also happened upon the scene, wrapped Cindy’s with his belt. Court records show 24-year-old Bay Lee Wilhite was behind the wheel of the vehicle. Police charged her with driving on the wrong side of the road.
Medics arrived and rushed the couple to St. David’s South Austin Medical Center.
“I’m just glad to see y’all standing and happy,” said Turner to the couple, who were wrapping up their in-patient physical therapy at St. David’s Rehabilitation Hospital.
Turner said the face-to-face meeting is inspiration for him, too. He plans to stay in touch with the couple.
“You show up to somebody and they’re in the worst moment of their life,” said the officer. “You don’t get to meet them afterward. You don’t get the luxury of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”