A police officer who lost his left leg in a motorcycle accident in 2020 in back on the beat after getting a computerised prosthetic leg from the police service.
PC Shane Smith, 26, of Lady Hailes Avenue, San Fernando said the accident has opened many doors for him and hopes to be on a motorbike one day soon.
On March 26, 2020, shortly before 6 pm, Smith got into an accident while on duty. He had joined the service a few months earlier.
"I love my new life. No matter how life looks, this is a positive for me. A lot of the time, we pay attention to the situation and problem we are experiencing. But if we look beyond that and have that faith, we can overcome anything,” Smith told Sunday Newsday.
Despite losing a limb, the father of two manages to stay positive and inspires people.
Two months after the accident, in May 2020, security consultant Paul Daniel Nahous donated a new wheelchair at a ceremony held at the Police Administration Building in Port of Spain. Then CoP Gary Griffith had presented a letter of commendation and a plaque to a civilian, Kevon Neptune, for saving Smith’s life.
The police service later gave Smith the computerised prosthetic leg, which connects to his cellphone. It has features like memorising how he walks and evaluating different surfaces and speeds.
He works in the Southern Division, and is attached to the community policing unit. Children refer to him as Cyborg, a superhero cartoon character that is part human and machine.
Cyborg is one of the main characters in Marvel's Teen Titans Go.
“They would always ask for photos. They would not know about the prosthetic leg if I wore long pants. But they would always be amazed whenever I raised my pants and showed them it. When I am talking to them, they would be watching my foot and not my face,” Smith said.
“If I do not have to wear long pants, I won’t. I am with the community police in Mon Repos and use my experience to inspire the youths and people experiencing domestic violence and other struggles.”
Smith and another policeman, then assigned to the Traffic and Highway Patrol Unit, had just left Port of Spain and were heading along the Churchill Roosevelt Highway on their motorcycles to Aranguez base when tragedy stuck.
Smith skidded on some gravel and lost control near the Samaroo roundabout in El Socorro. The bike crashed into a lamppost and Smith was thrown in the air and landed on a damaged railing, which severed his left leg, from the knee.
Neptune who was driving a bus along the highway stopped to help. Neptune put Smith in the bus, and took him to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Mt Hope.
Smith repeatedly thanked Neptune for saving his life. He recalled Neptune telling him to hold the leg, and, with his colleague, they headed to the hospital.
Smith said he remembered a woman seeing him holding his leg across his shoulder and began screaming hysterically at the hospital.
“The doctors asked if I wanted them to try to reattach it, and I did not want to take that chance. My knee was shattered. I told them to cut what they must,” Smith said.
Hours after the crash, his wife delivered their son in the same hospital.
“She came into the hospital in labour and prayed with me. My son’s middle name is Mercy because I survived. So while I was undergoing surgery on one end, she was having the baby on the other side,” Smith said.
“I rode a bike after the accident, but not for the service. I am planning to buy a bike. It was easy to adjust mentally because I had accepted that I lost a limb. It had difficult days with the changes, but I made the best of them.”
The avid churchgoer said he backslid, but some months ago, he got back on track.
His renewed faith has also resulted in him opening an online clothing store, aptly named (@bionicclothing_tt on Instagram. The logo is a picture of two legs, a prosthetic and a real one, accompanied by the Bible verse, “Walk by faith and not by sight,” taken from 2 Corinthians 5:7.
Smith grew up in Penal and was a national cricketer. He played with the Under-13, 15, 17 and 19 teams as a fast bowler.
He said one of the hardest part of having to wear a prosthetic is that he is unable to play the sport he loves. The accident took place during the pandemic, when there were restrictions on sporting activities.
“No one was playing cricket then. Even now, I try not to watch cricket because that is my only grievance: not being able to play. I played with people like Nicholas Pooran and Anderson Phillip,” he said.
Smith said he had a tough childhood and was the eldest of six siblings to his single mother, Portia Farrell, whom he credits for all her selfless efforts caring for the family.
“My mother is a superhero. Sometimes we did not have food, and she made sure we ate even if it meant she had to remain hungry. She is doing good now. She is employed, and she always has faith that I would overcome things and be in a good place.”