A Return to Station 8
Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department firefighter Thomas Shuster is back on duty after losing both of his legs on June 1 when he was struck by a car driven by a man authorities said was under the influence--and had stolen the car.
In fact, Shuster was back at his home station Cy-Fair VFD's Station 8 on FM 529 on Aug. 6. He said not much could keep him away from the volunteer role he has served in for almost nine years.
As far back as I can remember, I loved fire trucks and being at my grandfather's fire station in Ohio where he was a volunteer," Shuster said. I spend as much time here as I can."
Wicked sense of humor'
Friends say his wicked" sense of humor and matter-of-fact, optimistic outlook has steered him through tough times in the past eight months.
Shuster said he remembers going to bed Sunday evening May 31, but can recall nothing of the next two weeks, including events leading up to the accident. Authorities say Celio Velasquez, 23, was driving a stolen car and traveling at a high rate of speed when he drove into the parking lot of the O'Reilly Auto Parts store on Aldine Bender near the Hardy Toll Road where Shuster, a delivery driver for the company, was loading a truck.
How it happened
The car struck Shuster and severed his leg. He was taken to Memorial Hermann Hospital-Texas Medical Center where his other leg was amputated.
Intoxication assault with a motor vehicle charges were filed against Velasquez and he is awaiting trial in Harris County Jail.
When he speaks about his recovery, Shuster does not mention Velasquez and only provides information when asked. He is focused on the present.
Road to recovery
Shuster endured several surgeries following the accident, and then spent one month in in-patient rehabilitation at TIRR Memorial Hermann's Institute for Rehabilitation and Research.
He has since gone through 40 hours of outpatient rehabilitation work, and in October received prosthetic legs equipped with a computer in the right knee. Learning how to use those legs is his full-time job right now. He is up to two hours of walking a day, and is training his body to go for longer periods of time.
I am learning how to walk again and to do everything I used to do in a different way," Shuster said. I am getting used to using an extra 25 pounds of equipment it is like walking on stilts. I get better every day."
A great day
He said he it was a great day when he climbed into a fire truck at Station 8 he has done it twice.
That meant a lot to me," Shuster said. I plan on making it a regular occurrence."
His work at Station 8 has changed in scope, but he is enjoying every moment.
Because I cannot do as much as I did before, I help out a lot with training and guiding new (Cy-Fair VFD) members," Shuster said.
Shuster said he is grateful for Station 8's tremendous show of support following the accident and since.
Within 24 hours they had planned a benefit and raised $80,000," he said. The amount of people in the community who showed up was amazing. They have been very supportive of me and my family."
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