An Austin police officer on vacation in New Mexico was left paralyzed last Saturday after falling nearly 45 feet from a cliff while riding an all-terrain vehicle, according to Austin Cops for Charities.
The officer, Tammy Barrett, was pinned under the ATV for several hours before emergency crews could free her, according the officers’ charity group. Other details about the incident were not available Thursday.
Barrett was taken to University Medical Center in El Paso, where she had a 14-hour spine surgery Monday.
“Her prognosis at this time is that she will not walk again,” Austin Cops for Charities said on their website. “But her family is clinging to the one good news her doctors gave them: They found fibers in her spine so they are offering the hope that if she works hard and trains those fibers she may be able to stand and maybe have some movement.”
“For now the doctors are telling the family that they may not know the full capability of her recovery and it may take 10 years before they do,” the group added.
Austin police union President Ken Casaday said Barrett is in stable condition in El Paso, but it will take about a week before she can be brought back to Austin.
Barrett has served with the Police Department since 2008. She is currently assigned to the department’s Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit. Before joining the Austin police, she served in the U.S. Army from 1990 to 2003, when she joined the Hinesville Police Department in Georgia.
Austin Cops for Charities has started raising money to help Barrett’s family pay for medical and recovery expenses. The money the organization raises will be used to get a Barrett an accessible vehicle, make changes to her home or build her a new one, Casaday said.
“This is something that will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to make this right for her,” he said.
“Please continue to lift Tammy up in prayer,” the organization said. “This will be a long road to recovery, but Tammy is a strong lady and she has the support of her APD family and the Austin community of which she has served proudly for the past 10 years.”
How to help
Donations can be made on the Austin Cops for Charities website, or mailed to Austin Cops for Charities c/o Tammy’s Recovery Fund, 5817 Wilcab Road, Austin TX 78721.