Darin Kingery: 'Every day I wake up and thank God'

Darin Kingery

By Nikki

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) A North Charleston firefighter has been in a fight for his life for more than a month. But you might say his recovery is nothing short of a miracle.

"Every day I wake up and thank God I made it through this," said Darin Kingery, who spoke for the first time Friday since his accident.

He nearly lost his life in early June after police say a drunken driver crashed into him while he worked an accident on Ashley Phosphate Road in North Charleston.

"It wasn't like I was in a burning building or doing something traumatic. I was at work for a routine wreck, and I never expected it," said Kingery.

Felix Garcia-Romero was eventually charged with DUI and later issued a $300,000 bond. Police say he did not have a U.S.-issued driver's license.

"I know he had a lot to drink, but we had that scene blocked off almost perfect. It would have taken a NASCAR professional to get in. Somehow he did," he said. "I was angry about it at first, but there's nothing I can do about it."

On Friday night, Kingery's friend and fellow firefighter, Tim Howard, organized a fundraiser at Pierpont Pub in West Ashley. The money raised from the event will go to help Kingery pay for his medical bills.

"When something like this happens you can't believe how many supporters you have. It's almost overwhelming," he said.{}

He's now confined to a wheelchair but is lifted by the support and love he's felt from the community.

"There's a lot to live for," said Kingery. "There were times when I wanted to give up -- but I tell you, these people won't let you do it. The people you see here won't let you quit."

After the accident last month, Darin was rushed to Medical University Hospital where the odds of survival appeared to be stacked against him. Today he's making progress.

"I have a home care now -- Health South comes out and takes care of me. I have a shrinker on this knee. It's actually bringing it down to size so I get the prosthetic. There's some nerve damage to the other leg that they think will recover overtime," he said.

The former Marine says he's looking forward to moving on with his life and getting back to teaching for the South Carolina Fire Academy.

"I got word from the regional coordinator the other day. They want me back up and teaching as fast as possible. We're talking possibly the fall," he said.

While he may have lost a leg, he still hopes to return to the North Charleston Fire Department.

"The last thing they want to do is let me go. They've talked about some alternatives. The chief is a great guy, but it's a wait and see game," he said. "I see everything going back to normal and that's what I want."

Kingery has been with the North Charleston Fire Department for more than a decade.

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