Officer Injured by Suspected Drunken Driver Recovering, Will Throw First Pitch at Modesto Nuts Game

MODESTO -- Modesto Police Officer Juan Arroyo is expected to make a full recovery after he was seriously injured by a suspected drunken driver in January.

"At first it was hard," Arroyo said. "Because, as a police officer, you're independent."

Arroyo's patrol car was obliterated in the crash, when investigators say Nazario Castillo drunkenly broadsided him.

"Some days, they were hard, especially at the rehab center with therapy but I had therapists, they would literally come and get me out of bed, put me in a wheelchair and take me," Arroyo told FOX40.

Arroyo says letters and well wishes from students, other officers and strangers from across the country helped him persist.

"So they’re like, 'Hey, you could just sit there and kind of feel bad for yourself or push yourself.' And I was like, 'I want to push myself, I want to walk again,'" he said.

His hard-earned recovery will now be used as a shining example for the Modesto Nuts.

"It takes a special person to recover as quickly as he is," Nuts Executive Vice President Mike Gorrasi said.

Gorrasi says even as a teen working in the concessions stands, Arroyo showed he had what it takes to achieve his dream of donning the blues.

"And we wanted to make sure that our players, when they come into town, they know kind of what he’s gone through and how he’s overcome that," Gorrasi said.

The Nuts have created a special award after the officer, where an exemplary player who gives back to the community will be honored with the Juan Arroyo Perseverance Award yearly.

"Because the negative is always going to be there, it’s never going to leave," Arroyo said. "What happened, happened, it’s never going to go away, all we could do is push forward."

On Thursday, opening day for the Nuts, Arroyo will throw the first pitch.

"I'm really excited about Thursday. I think about it sometimes, I kind of get butterflies," Arroyo said.

Arroyo says he expects to run again someday. It will take some time, but doctors estimate he could be back out on patrol as early as November.