SIMI VALLEY (CBSLA) — At just 18, Cooper Mulholland was in a near-fatal motorcycle accident last month in Simi Valley that left him without a leg.
The former high school football standout was just finishing his Emergency Medical Technician training, and hoped to become a firefighter.READ MORE: LAPD Announces Anti-Recidivism Program, Offering Community Programs Over Jail Time For Certain Non-Violent Crimes
“I just remember waking up in the hospital room, not sure what was going on and why I was there,” he said.
Mulholland had reason to feel hopeless, but hope came in the form of his nurse at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Sandy Nahom.
“He thought at first, ‘Is my career over? What’s happening? Am I done,'” Nahom said. “And that’s when I thought of Garrett.”
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Garrett Rifkin was Nahom’s patient three years ago. He, too, lost his leg in a motorcycle accident.
But just three months after his amputation, he was back on the job.
“The first day, a [Los Angeles Police Department] officer came to visit me in the hospital,” Rifkin said. “I assumed it was to talk about my accident, and he lifted up his pant leg and showed me he was an amputee and that was my first glimpse of hope that I can get back to doing what I love.”
So when Nahom called Rifkin, he volunteered to pay Mulholland a visit.
“I heard you want to be a firefighter,” Rifkin said during that meeting captured on cell phone video. “As you can tell, it is possible.”READ MORE: Disneyland Drops Temperature Checks, Social Distancing As State Lifts Restrictions
“Cooper didn’t even realize that Garrett was an amputee himself until Garrett showed him,” Nahom said.
But Nahom wasn’t the only one who saw a change in Mulholland.
“He was blown away by it,” his dad, Jack, said.
“The minute he saw him, it was great,” mom, Dawn, said.
Mulholland is now home from the hospital.
“I feel like I’m still on the same path, going in the same direction at the same speed.”
As for Rifkin, he works on the department’s homeless outreach services team. He can run, tackle suspects and drive a patrol car.
“The only thing I found that I can’t do is wiggle my toes,” Rikin said with a laugh during his visit with Mulholland.MORE NEWS: Some Residents Confused On If They Should Continue Wearing Face Masks As Mandate Is Lifted
Nahom also connected Mulholland with a retired firefighter who is also an amputee, and they just so happen to live just a few miles away from one another. The two have plans to get together in the future.