Double-amputee Marine vet joins police department

The wounded warrior is now a cop — and he’ll be walking the beat on titanium legs.

Matias Ferreira, a U.S. Marine Corps lance corporal who lost his legs below the knee when he stepped on a hidden explosive in Afghanistan in 2011, is joining a suburban New York police department.

The 28-year-old graduated Friday from the Suffolk County Police Academy on Long Island following 29 weeks of training.

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound rookie passed all the physical training and other requirements just like any other recruit, including running a mile and a half in around 11 minutes. He begins patrols next week, a department spokesman said.

“I just really want to be able to help people,” said Ferreira, who immigrated to the U.S. from Uruguay as a child. “I want to be involved in the community, and the police department definitely allows you to do that.”

Ferreira was on patrol in Afghanistan on Jan. 21, 2011, when he jumped off a roof in a compound suspected of being a Taliban outpost.

“As soon as I landed I knew something was wrong because it was like a movie almost. I heard a noise and everything went black,” he said. A bomb had gone off beneath his legs, amputating both below the knees. “I just saw blood throughout my pants.”

He was evacuated to a local hospital. Within days, he was back in the U.S. being treated for his injuries. Three months later he was wearing prosthetic legs.

“I was up and walking in prosthetics and really just starting my new life,” he said.

That new life has included many activities he had never tried before the explosion. He has played on a softball team of wounded warriors. He skydives, scuba dives, snowboards and rides a motorcycle.

Raised in Georgia, he met his future wife, Tiffany, when his softball team played a game on Long Island in 2012. The couple now has a 2-year-old daughter.

After working as a steamfitter, welding while hanging off bridges and overpasses, Ferreira decided to take the exam to become a police officer. He scored a perfect 100, and his fellow recruits later elected him class president.

“He has served this great country with outstanding distinction, and will now serve and protect the residents of Suffolk County,” Police Commissioner Timothy Sini said in a statement.

Ferreira acknowledges the job will bring challenges, but approaches his new career with a sense of humor. He said he was once asked during academy training whether he has concerns about injuries.

“If I break my leg, I go in the trunk and put on a different one and I keep on going,” he said.

He lives by the motto that “life without limbs is limitless.”

“The only disability we have is the ones that we make,” he said.

Follow this story

Venezuelan-American in Doral helps refugees arriving in South Florida

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) teamed up with the mayor of Doral Friday to honor a woman and her organization, which is helping those who are fleeing to South Florida from Venezuela.

“They’re coming because they want to live in freedom,” Patricia Andrade told Local 10 News.

Andrade’s mission is to help families who are seeking political asylum in the United States from Venezuela. 

“We live off donations and give for free because the Venezuelans are short of money,” she said.

The Venezuela Awareness Foundation, known as Raices, works out of a storage facility in Doral. It’s also where they keep the many items they collect through the help of donations. 

Raices has four storage units full of supplies, bed linens, appliances and other items to help people start a new life in the U.S.

“Every unit is $345 a month,” Andrade said.

The group seeks to help Venezuelan immigrants integrate into American life, defend the victims of human rights violations and provide aid for those in need. 

“Getting used to the new culture, making sure your kids have a good future, making sure you have a job,” Doral Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez said.

“We get around 100 people per day,” Andrade said.

David Bavaresco, a 21-year-old martial arts champion and vocal critic of Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro, is among those whom the group has helped. 

“We don’t have food. We don’t have human rights. We don’t have medicines for people who are dying,” he said.

Bavaresco and his family came to South Florida to escape the crisis in their country. 

“I’m starting to work and compete. At first it was hard, but it’s now more stable,” he said.  

With the situation in Venezuela worsening, asylum claims are reaching record numbers.

According to the Pew Research Center, Venezuelans account for 10,221 asylum applications filed between October 2015 and June 2016, which is up from 3,810 filed during the same time period the year before. 

Andrade and her movement received an honor Friday from the office of Diaz-Balart, recognizing her tireless work to help other Venezuelans. 

“It’s an honor as a Venezuelan-American. It’s an honor,” Andrade said. 

Follow this story

Dead teen’s parents get bill for guardrail that killed her during crash

When the parents of Hannah Eimers, 17, were mourning her death, the last thing they were expecting was a bill from state authorities.

They were charging Hannah for a guardrail that was damaged during the crash that killed her.  

Authorities later said the $3,000 bill sent to Stephen Eimers’ daughter was a “mistake somewhere in processing,” according to The Tennessean

What upset the Eimers the most was that during the Nov. 1 impact, Hannah suffered the fatal injuries when the guardrail passed through the side door and failed to stop the car.

 

Follow this story

Man arrested for not telling woman cookies had marijuana

Renee Holloway told police officers at Port Orange, Fla., that she was hungry when she ate all of the peanut butter cookies that a man gave her. 

Holloway said she knew something was wrong with the cookies, when she started to “feel woozy,” according to The Daytona Beach News-Journal

She told police officers that William Van Arsdale had given her the cookies. Police officers would later learn that the 70-year-old man didn’t tell her that they were laced with marijuana.

Van Arsdale allegedly told officers that he didn’t mean any harm. He just didn’t think there was enough there to affect her. 

He was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana in excess of 20 grams, possession with intent to sell, reckless tampering with a product with risk of injury or death, and possession of paraphernalia.

 

Follow this story

For teacher twinning with student, ‘ugly hair’ bullying was unacceptable

When a little boy told one of her students that she had ugly hair, a school teacher gave the girl a pep talk about the unacceptable bullying. But she didn’t stop there.

Ana Ferreira, a teacher in Sao Paulo, Brazil, copied the little girl’s hair style and showed up to school with it the next day. 

“When she saw me, she came running to hug me and say that I was beautiful,” Ferreira wrote on a Facebook status.

Ferreira wrote she told the girl, “Today, I am beautiful like you.” Ferreira shared a picture of herself twinning with her student. Her post was shared some 30,000 times. 

 

Follow this story