TAMPA — A vacation cruise with friends in sunny Cozumel, Mexico, ended abruptly for a Tampa police officer who was critically injured in a car accident late Wednesday afternoon.
Officer Andrea M. Law, 36, was flown back to Tampa Thursday morning suffering from lacerations to the liver, said Tampa police Chief Jane Castor.
"They used the medical glue to put it together," Castor said. "So it's just a matter of the next couple of days seeing how it heals."
The newly assigned resource officer for Stewart Middle School made it through surgery but is still in critical condition at Tampa General Hospital.
Law left Tampa on the Carnival Legend cruise Sunday bound for four ports in the Western Caribbean, including Cozumel, according to a statement from the cruise company.
After the ship docked, she and four friends rented a jeep and had a head-on collision with another vehicle, Castor said.
All five were injured, Carnival said in a statement, noting that the excursion was not a ship-sponsored event. Only Law and one other person were flown back to the U.S. for medical treatment.
Castor said Law was ejected from the jeep. Doctors in Mexico treated the police officer for a head injury, and discovered internal injuries. Castor said Law's mother arranged for a medical jet to return her daughter to Tampa.
"At first they were going to send her to San Antonio, but her mother said 'No bring my daughter to Tampa,' " Castor explained.
Law arrived in Tampa via Learjet around 9 a.m. Thursday. Castor and other officers were waiting with a helicopter to take her to TGH and directly into surgery.
The other American was taken to Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital, Castor said.
There are reports that people in the other car died, but it is unclear how many, and Tampa police are working with Mexican officials to learn details.
Law has been with the Tampa Police Department since 2007 and started as the school resource officer at Stewart Middle School in October. Before coming to Tampa, she worked for he St. Petersburg Police Department and corrections in Ohio.
She was hired by St. Petersburg on Aug. 9, 2004, as a cadet, records show, and sworn in as an officer on March 28, 2005. She worked there as an officer on patrol for two years.
Both the chief and Mayor Pam Iorio stayed with at least 25 officers, friends, Law's parents and staffers from Stewart Middle after she emerged from surgery, Castor said.
Hospital officials set up a room for the anxious bunch and have supplied food and drink as they wait for news.
"She's a very, very well respected officer," Castor said. "She's a part of our family, and we're praying for her."