'He's a fighter': HPD officer burned on duty returns to work

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- It took more than 400 days, but a Houston police officer severely injured on the job returned to work this week.

It was the moment John Daily has been waiting for. He stood inside Houston Police Department headquarters on Friday, once again, proudly sporting an HPD logo.

"That was the only thing I could talk about," said Daily. "How soon until I'm back. I just need that one signature. That one doctor. I need that one more appointment."

Late last week, Daily received the approval.

"I think my exact words were, 'Well, it's about time,'" Daily recalled. "Getting back wasn't easy."

On Christmas Eve, more than a year ago, officers said a drunk driver slammed into his cruiser. The accident injured Daily and his partner. Daily suffered burns to more than half his body. He's gone through hours of rehab and nearly 40 surgeries to get back to work.

READ MORE: Officer severely burned in Christmastime crash surprised with new car

"I'm like a frequent flyer when it comes to surgeries," Daily said. "Whatever I've got to do to get it done, I'll get it done."
Daily's return wasn't just uplifting for himself, but it has left a mark on the entire department.

"We didn't think John was coming back," said HPD commander Ron Borza. "At first, we didn't think he was going to survive, but he's a fighter."

However, Daily's fight isn't over. His goal is to become a patrol officer. At the moment, he's only cleared to work desk duty.

Daily isn't sure when doctors will make his dream come true, but simply being back at the department is worth it for Daily.

"It's kind of a step in the right direction to putting the suspect, in my mind, putting him away," Daily said. "Maybe not behind bars, but like, his impact on me as a victim."

READ ALSO: HPD officer burned in Christmas Eve crash with another driver walks out of hospital for first time

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Officer John Daily spent half the year in the hospital and said he's ready to continue his recovery and fight drunk driving.

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