Officer hit by distracted driver begs public to put down their phones

SAPD Officer Jonathan Esquivel opens up about recovery and distracted driving

SAN ANTONIO – A local police officer is still recovering from an accident that nearly killed him four years ago. The driver who hit him is accused of looking at a cellphone.

The officer tells KSAT he wants drivers to put those distractions away.

Jonathan Esquivel loves being an SAPD officer, but his passion has always been dancing.

"Hip-hop, breaking, popping, all of that! Then I learned salsa and merengue and danced for Fiesta, Texas," he said.

However, after February 19, 2012, doctors feared he would never dance again.

"I don't remember anything," Officer Esquivel said.

He's seen dash cam video of the accident that almost took his life. He was blocking traffic at the 410 access road near Evers, where there had just been a wreck.

"From the dash cam you just see this truck just getting bigger and bigger and bigger coming at my car so I take off running and apparently he looked up from his phone, saw my car, jerked his wheel and just nailed me," Esquivel explained. 

Esquivel was in a coma for two weeks, but wasn't fully conscious until two months later. He suffered a brain injury and broke his neck, collar bone, ribs and ankle. His pelvis almost split in two.

"They put nine plates and over 130 screws in my pelvis," he said.

The investigation found the driver of the truck had been texting when he hit Esquivel.

"It's very upsetting because it's 100 percent avoidable. Just put the phone down. You're in the car. Forget about it," he said.

Distracted-driving crashes involving cellphones are on the rise in San Antonio. In 2014, there were 251 crashes. In 2015, there were 320.

So Esquivel is asking the public to think of him when they want to use phones while driving. 

"A whole lot of things happened after the wreck, with me emotionally, mentally. It changed a whole lot and all that could have been avoided if he wasn't on the phone," he said.

Thankfully his incredible attitude, dedication to service, and impressive dance moves are back in full force. 

The distracted driver who hit officer Esquivel was eventually charged with assault of a peace officer. Esquivel said he is anxiously awaiting the trial, which should start in May.

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