Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy receives the gift of running after losing leg

Leticia Juarez Image
Wednesday, December 19, 2018
LA sheriff's deputy receives the gift of running after losing leg
A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy based in West Hollywood received a prosthetic running leg as an early Christmas gift after he lost his leg in a hit-and-run crash.

LAKE FOREST, Calif. (KABC) -- It's been four months since West Hollywood-based Los Angeles County sheriff's Deputy Garret Rifkin has been able to jog or run.

In August, Rifkin lost his left leg following a hit-and-run crash.

"I remember asking the paramedics, 'Hey am I going to lose my leg?'" he said.

After six surgeries, Rifkin's leg was amputated but with hard work he is now able to walk with the help of a prosthetic leg. He will soon be able to pick up running again, too.

On Tuesday, Orange County-based prosthetic manufacture, Ossur, presented Rifkin with a prosthetic running leg.

"You lost your limb doing service to us. Thank you very much," said Jon Sigurdsson, president and CEO of Ossur.

Ossur, along with the Challenge Athletes Foundation's Operation Rebound program, donated the state-of-the-art running leg.

"Through them, we are actually able to make grants and donations of running prosthetics, which are not covered by insurance, and they can run upward of $15,000 to $30,000," said Tabi King, Ossur's director of prosthetics.

For Rifkin, the early Christmas gift was a welcomed surprise.

"Honestly, it is probably one of the best Christmas gifts I've gotten. It gets your life back to normal," he said.

On hand during the presentation was fellow amputee and San Diego police Detective Chappie Hunter.

Hunter, who has the same running leg as Rifkin, often speaks to new amputees and is an ambassador with Operation Rebound.

"They are there to help you get active again and stay active in life and make sure that you are not going to fall behind, or as we deem disabled or handicap. It's not a term that we use at all anymore," Hunter said.

As for Rifkin, he is already making plans for his new running leg.

"This is going to be a game changer. It will help me get back in the gym, get back to running, run Baker to Vegas like my station wants me to," he said.

Rifkin plans on crossing the finish line in March on the last leg of the Baker to Vegas relay race.