By Amanda Rogers
Mansfield police officer Randy Watson thought he was just heading to work the morning of Feb. 2, but it turned out to be the longest ride of his life.
The veteran officer and his Harley-Davidson motorcycle were struck on FM 2738 and Watson was gravely injured before being taken by air ambulance to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. He woke up the next morning with a broken wrist, two broken fingers and without his left leg.
“I was on the way to work about 6:20 a.m., northbound on 2738,” recalled Watson, 59, who lives on an 11-acre farm in Johnson County with his wife, Corinna. “There’s no passing lane. I was getting to the crest of the hill and I saw two sets of headlights and two large grills. It flashed through my head ‘this is going to hurt’ and pushed for the bar ditch. I was probably going 50 mph.”
Watson didn’t make it to the ditch before being hit by a truck that was passing a school bus. The truck rolled and hit another vehicle. No one else was injured in the accident.
“It hit me on the left side and crushed my left leg up against the motorcycle,” Watson said.
Donel Maybury was driving by and stopped to help, using his belt as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding from Watson’s leg.
“I don’t remember the first thing he said, but he said ‘this is going to hurt.’ It did,” Watson said. “I don’t remember the helicopter coming.”
Watson woke up the next morning at John Peter Smith Hospital, where he would undergo eight surgeries on what was left of his leg to remove the dying tissue. The left-hander had also broken his left wrist, middle and little fingers.
Watson, who has served 26 years with the Mansfield Police Department, four years with the Dallas Police before that and 10 years in the Air Force, says the accident should have been much worse.
“There were no other injuries from the wreck,” Watson said. “I wasn’t wearing a helmet, but I was wearing leather.”
He is currently using a wheelchair and a walker while he waits for his leg to finish healing. Then he will be ready for a prosthetic leg.
The accident has completely changed his look on life, Watson said.
“The first day I woke up at 10 or 11 a.m. (in the hospital) and the food on the tray was cold, since it had been sitting there since 7 or 8 a.m.,” he said. “I was going to complain and then I thought ‘You are lucky to be alive.’
“I’m not the grumpy old curmudgeon I was,” Watson said. “I have an angel on my shoulder.
“Generally, motorcycle accidents are bad,” he said. “I credit God for keeping me alive. If I had hit my head on the pavement, I would be dead. “If Donel hadn’t put that tourniquet on my leg, I would be dead. I would have bled out. If (God) hadn’t been looking out for me, I would be dead.”
Since the accident, Watson has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support.
“The outreach, the sheer volume, not just from Mansfield and the police department,” he said. “I’ve gotten cards from across the country.”
T-shirt sales and fund-raisers in support of Watson have netted $50,000, he said.
Watson is currently on sick leave, but plans to return to work as soon as he can.
“They told me ‘We will have you up and moving in three month,’” he said.
But he won’t be returning to work on his Harley-Davidson, which was destroyed in the accident, or any other motorcycle, Watson said.
“My wife (Corinna) says I can’t have another one,” he said. “I’m not sure I could get on one without a left foot to shift. I’m not sure psychologically I could get back on one.”
Despite his loss, Watson is upbeat and ready to get back to work.
“As a police officer, it’s easy to get jaded and think everybody out there is bad or that everybody hates cops,” he said. “This proves that’s not true. I don’t really need anything, the support has been phenomenal.”
Mansfield, Texas, is a booming city, nestled between Fort Worth and Dallas, but with a personality all its own. The city’s 76,247 citizens enjoy an award-winning school district, vibrant economy, historic downtown, prize-winning park system and community focus spread across 37 square miles. The Mansfield Record is dedicated to reporting city and school news, community happenings, police and fire news, business, food and restaurants, parks and recreation, library, historical archives and special events. The city’s only online newspaper launched in September 2020 and will offer introductory advertising rates for the first three months at three different rates.