Double-amputee Marine vet joins New York police department

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

Matias Ferreira, a former 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 (1.9-meter), 215-pound (98-kilogram) 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."


Matias Ferreira, center, adjusts his hat during his graduation ceremony from the Suffolk County Police Department Academy at the Health, Sports and Education Center in Suffolk, Long Island, New York, Friday, March 24, 2017. Ferreira, a former 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. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)


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.


Matias Ferreira poses for a picture during his graduation from the Suffolk County Police Department Academy at the Health, Sports and Education Center in Suffolk, Long Island, New York, Friday, March 24, 2017. Ferreira, a former 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. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

 

Matias Ferreira, center, celebrates with his 2-year-old daughter, his wife, left, and his mother during his graduation from the Suffolk County Police Department Academy at the Health, Sports and Education Center in Suffolk, Long Island, New York, Friday, March 24, 2017. Matias Ferreira, a former 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. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

 

Matias Ferreira, center, arrives as his colleagues salute him while they prepare to march during their graduation from the Suffolk County Police Department Academy at the Health, Sports and Education Center in Suffolk, Long Island, New York, Friday, March 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

 

Matias Ferreira, center, receives his diploma during his graduation from the Suffolk County Police Department Academy at the Health, Sports and Education Center in Suffolk, Long Island, New York, Friday, March 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

 

Matias Ferreira, center, hugs his colleague as they prepare to march during their graduation from the Suffolk County Police Department Academy at the Health, Sports and Education Center in Suffolk, N.Y., Friday, March 24, 2017. Ferreira, a former 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. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

 

Matias Ferreira, second row, second, and his colleagues take off his hat during their graduation from the Suffolk County Police Department Academy at the Health, Sports and Education Center in Suffolk, N.Y., Friday, March 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

 

Matias Ferreira, center, celebrates with his colleagues during their graduation from the Suffolk County Police Department Academy at the Health, Sports and Education Center in Suffolk, N.Y., Friday, March 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

 

Matias Ferreira's wife, Tiffany, center right, celebrates with her daughter, her mother, bottom left, and her father, top right, during Matias' graduation from the Suffolk County Police Department Academy at the Health, Sports and Education Center in Suffolk, N.Y., Friday, March 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

 


Text from the AP news story, Double-amputee Martin joins New York police department, by Franklin Eltman.

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