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Wounded MCSO deputy Garcia makes public appearance

From left: Deputy Ruben Garcia, Andrew Phelps and Sheriff Joe Arpaio. (KTAR Photo/Bob McClay)

PHOENIX -- Maricopa County Sheriff's Deputy Ruben Garcia doesn't remember the shooting that has kept him off the job for months.

Garcia was responding to a domestic violence call Jan. 8 in Peoria when he shot multiple times in the face by a man in a pickup truck. The suspect, 54-year-old Donald Miller, died in a shootout later that night with Peoria police.

Garcia is recovering from his injuries. "My vision on my left eye is distorted," he said. "I'm still taking pain medication for my jaw, which was reconstructed. The doctors and the medical staff were excellent. I'm still going through surgeries."

But Friday he got the chance to publicly thank the man who saved his life at the same time Garcia was being honored by the department.

Andrew John Phelps, 20, heard a woman yelling that a deputy had been shot. Phelps had learned CPR at school, and went into action. "It was a very gruesome scene for me," he said. "I definitely have stories to tell my grandchildren."

Garcia's story is ongoing. He said he is battling with bouts of depression but he hopes to get back on the job as soon as he's able.

He is thankful for the support from his family and members of the community.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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