ST. LOUIS — Two St. Louis police officers expressed gratitude after surviving an incident that nearly cost them their lives earlier this year.
On Jan. 24, at about 6:30 p.m., Field Training Police Officer Brian Hayes and his trainee, Officer Delvion Mitchell, were assisting with a stranded vehicle on I-64 near Boyle Avenue.
In a split second, their lives flashed before them.
“All you see is a vehicle coming straight at you. The last thing going through my head was, ‘I’m dead,'” Hayes said.
Neither had any time to react.
“That’s all I remember until I was laying in a puddle of blood,” Mitchell said.
The two were rushed to the hospital, and their list of injuries was extensive.
Hayes, 45, had surgery last week for a torn hamstring. He is also recovering from a concussion, bone bruises throughout his knees and arms, and nerve damage. Mitchell, 23, had it worse.
“My right leg was broken,” Mitchell said. “My right hip was fractured. My left foot was fractured. My face was fractured. My right eye was kind of fractured. My skull was fractured. I had lacerations on my hands and wrists.”
It was a frustrating, traumatic experience for the two men. It was also one that they said could have easily been avoided.
“Slowing down, moving over when you see emergency lights for first responders, tow trucks. Anyone broken down on the side of the road is the most dangerous thing. I have no control over a vehicle doing 90 miles per hour slamming into the back of our vehicle, and then into us,” Hayes said.
The incident comes during what was an especially difficult week for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.
Two days after the officers were struck, two other officers were shot in the line of duty. They survived.
One of the officers, Colin Ledbetter, underwent numerous surgeries after being shot twice. His family has expressed gratitude that he survived – and is healing.
“It just speaks that at any time, anything can happen at a police department, even the fire department, any kind of first responder,” said Hayes.
The experience hits close to home for Hayes, who has been on the force for five years. His academy classmate and friend, Officer Tamarris Bohannon, was killed in the line of duty in 2020.
Hayes, like Bohannon, is a husband and father. He is also the operations director for Guns ‘N Hoses. The annual event raises money for BackStoppers, which provides financial assistance for families of fallen first responders.
Hayes and Mitchell have remained in close contact since the life-changing event on Jan. 24.
“Every day I call him. He’s more than a partner, more than a trainee. He’s a brother to me now,” Hayes said. “We share a day together that no one else is going to share with us. Jan. 24, around 6:30 p.m., is basically our alive day. It could have ended for either of us.”
Mitchell said the response from the department, and Officer Hayes, in particular, has meant so much to him.
“I look up to him a lot,” Mitchell said. “It made me feel blessed the support that Officer Hayes and the rest of the department gave me. I never had that support growing up.”
Mitchell is younger and has been on the job for only a matter of weeks. Hayes said his trainee has taught him a thing or two after the incident.
“He’s been positive. He kept me going when I was down. So, I look up to him too,” Hayes said.
Mitchell said he was moved to see Hayes waiting for him the day he was discharged from the rehabilitation facility, where he spent three weeks. Hayes said there was no question he’d be there to see his friend, brother, and colleague.
“I was there when he got discharged,” Hayes said. “I’m going to be there for him until his last day.”
The case has not been presented yet to the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office as the investigation continues.