AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin police officer paralyzed in an ATV crash last month is getting some financial help from her colleagues and others while she recovers.
Officer Tammy Barrett was vacationing near El Paso when the ATV she was riding plunged off a cliff. She was taken to a local hospital, then transferred to Austin. Doctors told her she might never walk again.
“It’s almost a helpless feeling,” APD Ofc. Destiny Silva said. She went through the academy with Barrett more than a decade ago and flew to El Paso when she heard the news.
“I wanted to do something to fix it or make it better and I just felt I needed to be there,” Silva said. “A lot was going on and we weren’t sure she was going to make it at that time.”
Jason Borne, a former APD officer and Barrett’s shift-mate, wanted to help, too. He runs a company called Millecor outside of Houston, and often raises money for veterans and members of law enforcement who need it.
With Barrett’s input, he designed a t-shirt featuring the Austin skyline, the hashtag “#TammyStrong,” and the phrase, “In this family, no one fights alone.” All the proceeds from the shirt will go to Barrett.
“Military service, first responders, it is a family,” Borne said. “It’s a very close-knit family; it’s a family that steps together when one of their family members is in a time of need. And that’s what’s happening right now.”
Within the first 24 hours, he sold more than 250 of the shirts. Within the first week, sales raised more than $10,000 for Barrett’s recovery.
“We want to keep that momentum going,” he said. “I mean, that’s a great number, but… with what she’s going to face in the years ahead, $10,000 is not going to go a long way.”
With lost wages and medical bills, he said, the costs add up quickly. “On top of that, you have to mix in the reality that she’s going to be wheelchair-bound. And that’s going to require modifications to housing and vehicles and everything else.”
Barrett, also a military veteran, is doing well despite some medical complications, Silva said. She’s staying strong mentally in the face of an overwhelming injury.
Silva, who described her friend as “tough as nails,” said it’s been humbling to see the amount of support she’s gotten from her extended police family, both in Austin and in El Paso. It’s going to be a long road ahead for Barrett, including lots of rehab, but Silva said she’s ready to fight.
“If anyone can pull off a miracle and walk again,” she said, “it’s her.”