TAMPA — When Deputy Malachi McCoy's car slammed into a tree last week, he suffered head trauma that has so far left him unable to communicate in the most basic of ways.
He can't squeeze fingers, he can't talk and he hasn't even opened his eyes, said his brother, Tim McCoy.
The 32-year-old deputy has been kept in an induced coma, but even when doctors reduce his medications, he doesn't wake up, the brother said.
"The doctors say they've had other patients with other similar bruising on the brain that come out in two months or three months," he said. "But they can't put a time frame on it. They just don't know."
On Sept. 7, Deputy McCoy's car hit a large puddle of water on Gunn Highway near Tamarind Avenue. He was driving his own car to work.
The 1999 Lexus veered off the road and hit a tree. He wasn't wearing a seat belt, the Sheriff's Office said. The crash is still under investigation. The agency has not said how fast he was going.
McCoy broke bones in his left leg, but his organs are functioning, Tim McCoy said.
The biggest concern is the head trauma, he said.
After several weeks, doctors might have a better idea of Malachi's prognosis, Tim McCoy said.
Malachi McCoy grew up in Town 'N Country, the son of a Baptist minister. He decided to become a deputy when one spoke at his high school. He joined the Explorer program and started working for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office shortly after graduation.
In Hillsborough, he's arguably best known for fatally shooting murder suspect Jorge Bello Garcia in 2008 as Garcia struggled to wrestle a gun away from a wounded deputy.
McCoy received the Sheriff's Office Medal of Honor from Sheriff David Gee and the Governor's Medal of Heroism from then-Gov. Charlie Crist. Many credit him with saving lives that day.
Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3433.