'By the grace of God, I'm still here': Knightdale officer returns to job

Elaina Athans Image
Wednesday, August 23, 2023
'By the grace of God': Injured Knightdale officer returns to job
Knightdale police officer Cody Hagler was injured after being hit by a suspected drunk driver in a crash that killed fellow officer Ryan Hayworth.

KNIGHTDALE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Knightdale Police Officer Cody Hagler has been pushing himself for the last year and a half. He's finally back wearing his uniform and out patrolling the town.

Hagler suffered significant injuries, including head trauma, after being hit by a suspected drunk driver.

"Statistically speaking, I shouldn't be standing here talking to you," said Hagler. "It's by the grace of God, I'm still here."

Hagler is only speaking with ABC11 about what he's been through and said he doesn't remember much about the crash. His last memory is placing flares on the road.

"I know there's dangers that come with the job and working out on the side of the highway, but I just never thought that this would happen to me," he said.

Hagler was out in the field with trainee Officer Ryan Hayworth.

They pulled over on I-540 and were responding to a wreck when Highway Patrol said the impaired driver slammed into their patrol car at 80 mph.

A suspected drunk driver slammed into the police cruiser at 80 mph, killing one officer and seriously injuring another.

Hagler was sitting on the passenger side and said he was thrown the vehicle.

He suffered internal and external injuries.

The seven-year law enforcement veteran learned at the hospital that his trainee was killed.

"I was this close to just giving up and saying, 'I don't want to do this job anymore. It's not worth it,'" said Hagler

There is now a memorial on the highway honoring the young officer.

Hagler still struggles emotionally.

"He was my responsibility, his safety and well-being, was my responsibility," said Hagler.

A Knightdale man was arrested and charged with murder.

Dedric Privette is in jail and being held without bond. He's awaiting trial.

Hagler had to undergo several surgeries. He's done a ton of physical therapy and also had to work on regaining his hearing and vision.

Hagler has been in contact with the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving and plans to share his story at gatherings with the hope it serves as a warning.

"I just wish everybody would be able to experience what I had to go through before they decided to get behind the wheel impaired and how it affected so many people in so many different families," said Hagler. "It's just terrible."

He's been back in the field full-time for roughly two weeks and said support from the Town of Knightdale and Knightdale Police Department has really helped.