LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - A little more than a year ago, firefighter Matt Dawson suffered a traumatic brain injury when a driver crossed the median and struck three first responders while they were working the scene of an accident.
LPD officer Nicholas Reyna and Paramedic Eric Hill died from their injuries.
Dawson returned home in August 2020 and has become an advocate for the 5-5-5 safety program, founded by the parents of Eric Hill.
Now, with the return of winter weather to the South Plains, Dawson is warning drivers to move over and slow down.
“It hurts me right now not being able to be out there doing that, but I’ve got to take care of myself first, before I can get back out there, and do the work I love doing,” Dawson said.
Dangerous weather is sweeping across the whole state of Texas this week.
On Thursday, a massive pile-up on an icy I-35 in Fort Worth left at least six dead and dozens injured.
“It hits home, whenever I hear about an accident,” Dawson said, “especially a large accident like Fort Worth.”
In the last few days, Lubbock police have responded to hundreds of wrecks on slippery roads.
The Dawsons continue to share their simple, powerful message, hoping to spare others from the trauma they have experienced.
“We can’t get that word out enough, to remember to slow down and move over,” Dawson said.
“It’s absolutely heart breaking and it’s also a little infuriating. I wish that we could get this message across for people to just to move over. Where you’re going is going to be there when you get there,” Dawson’s wife Chanda said.
Matt Dawson’s recovery continues as they push forward every day.
Matt goes to Moody Rehab in Lubbock five days a week, getting physical, occupational, and speech therapy.
He says it’s the little things we often take for granted, like walking, even just standing up, that he works hard on every single day.
“My record of physically taking steps with a walker is 815 feet,” Dawson said, proud of his progress.
It can be a painful and sometimes frustrating process, but Matt does it with a smile, with his wife and 6-year-old daughter, Presley, by his side.
“She has started to pick up basketball, which I love. I started playing basketball when I was about six years old. I would like to be able to dribble and run the basketball and shoot it up at the hoop,” he said.
Matt says he is grateful that the crash did not take his long term memory or his sense of humor.
His main goal right now is to one day be back at the fire station, to continue giving back to this community he has called home his entire life.
“I’m going to come back, 100% back to them,” he said. “It’s just going to take some time.”