Wounded police officer returns to post in N.J. town two years after near-fatal accident

In April 2020, Officer Anthony Pyzik was on patrol when he was struck head-on by someone driving a stolen vehicle


By Jackie Roman
nj.com
        
SUMMIT, N.J. — The first day back at work usually brings some jitters, but Officer Anthony Pyzik showed no nerves, nor hesitation, as he strode into the Summit Police Department Monday morning. His resolve was impressive, especially given the last time he reported for duty, he just barely walked away with his life.

“It’s good to be back,” Pyzik, 32, said Monday during a reception for his return at City Hall.

It was just under two years ago, in April 2020, when Pyzik — who had been with the department since 2017 — was on patrol when his police department vehicle was struck head-on by someone driving a stolen motor vehicle. It happened in an instant, he said. One moment he was responding to dispatch and the next, he’d been struck.

Summit Police Department Officer Anthony Pyzik was greeted with a clap when he returned to work Monday after being injured in April 2020.
Summit Police Department Officer Anthony Pyzik was greeted with a clap when he returned to work Monday after being injured in April 2020. (Ed Murray/NJ.com)

Reports from the time of the incident state the stolen vehicle was heading west on Morris Avenue in Summit just after midnight when it crossed over the center line at the intersections of Morris Avenue and Lower Overlook Road and slammed into Pyzik, who was driving in the opposite direction, police said.

“All I really remember from that point is just two headlights coming right at me,” Pyzik told NJ Advance Media.

Pyzik pulled himself out of the wreckage, stumbling from the vehicle before falling to his knees. He was soon surrounded by first responders, who brought him to Morristown Medical Center for immediate medical attention. Pyzik would remain hospitalized in serious condition for two weeks.

The Rev. Ron Martin, chaplain to the Summit Police Department, said he’ll never forget seeing Pyzik in the hospital that first night.

“What I do recall is a man that was shaken. I saw a man that was covered in blood. The gurney was covered with blood, the floor was covered with blood, and we even had blood on us from touching you,” Martin said. “And now here you are standing in the winner’s circle, because this is what we prayed for ultimately, for you to come back to a career that you have a passion for and that you love.”

Pyzik’s injuries from the collision were severe, and his hard-fought recovery required seven major surgeries to repair femur, hip and wrist fractures, multiple spinal nerve-block injections, and many months of physical therapy for the injuries he sustained.

“Officer Pyzik suffered some serious, serious injuries that would have ended the career of most law enforcement officers,” said Acting Chief Steven Zagorski. “But Anthony here is a special kid. And I know through your hard work, perseverance, you fought your way back to us.”

Pyzik told NJ Advance Media he couldn’t have made it through without the support of his family, colleagues, and Summit residents.

“When I got injured, the outpouring of support — from getting notes from kids in school, to residents writing me personal notes — it was really overwhelming, but it was what I needed,” he said.

There’s still more work ahead for Pyzik, who continues to attend physical therapy three times a week. He has limited mobility in the appendages of his feet and may require additional surgeries in the future. But for now, he’s looking forward to resuming his role as an officer with the Summit Police Department. Pyzik will be on light duty for the time being, with a long-term goal of returning to patrol and eventually becoming a detective.

“With great courage, determination, and an enormous amount of effort, he is back with us,” Mayor Nora Radest said Monday. “A lot of work went into what he had to do and I could not be more proud.”

Formally beginning his first day back on the job, Pyzik picked up a radio and called into dispatch — “I’ll be on duty,” he said.

“On behalf of all public safety and first responders and the citizens of the city of Summit, we’d like to welcome you home,” dispatch responded.

And just like that, Pyzik was back.

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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