GRAPEVINE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Governor Greg Abbott is presenting the Star of Texas award in Austin Friday, Sept. 10, to a North Texas police officer who was almost killed in the line of duty.
The Grapevine motorcycle officer went through two years of grueling rehab to get back to the job he loves.
“I used to ride when I was a kid,” said Officer RJ Hudson, who says he’s always loved motorcycles.
Hudson has been riding one for more than two decades in his career as a police officer.
“Being on a police motorcycle, you’re a lot more agile,” he said. “You’re able to get to places that cars can’t go.”
In 2017, Hudson was trying to pull someone over for a traffic violation on 121 when an SUV swerved into his lane and struck him.
“I was doing approximately 95 mph where I got hit,” said Hudson.
His helmet flew off on impact, and he skidded down the roadway nearly 300 feet.
“I’ve been an accident investigator for a long time, and I’ve never worked a crash to this severity with someone who’s living to tell about it,” Hudson said. “I had 26 different broken bones in hundreds of different pieces.”
It took two years, nearly a dozen surgeries, and countless hours of physical therapy before Hudson returned to full-duty – and to his motorcycle.
“I had a goal of getting back on a motorcycle, and coming back out and competing in events like this,” he said. “That’s what I wanted to do.”
More than 100 officers from departments across the country are in Grapevine this week for the Back the Blue Rodeo.
The motorcycle agility competitions are meant to be fun for the public to watch, but it’s also a critical training opportunity.
Officers can practice riding with precision under pressure.
“The environment with lots of crowd and everything being on a stopwatch adds a lot of stress, and the human body doesn’t really distinguish between that kind of adrenaline and the kind when you get a hot call,” said Hudson.
He credits the skills the rodeo develops with helping to save his life.
“Officers need to trust in themselves and have perseverance to push through,” he said. “Don’t quit. And training is important.”
Governor Abbott will present the Star of Texas Award to Hudson at 10:30 a.m. on Friday.
It honors first responders killed or seriously injured in the line of duty.