Family of SBPD officer injured in bomb training exercise gives update on condition

Published: Oct. 11, 2017 at 11:57 PM EDT
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On Wednesday, the family of a South Bend Police officer said he is recovering well, about a week after he nearly lost his life during a bomb disposal training accident on Oct. 3.

Sgt. Harvey Mills was seriously injured and taken to Memorial Hospital, but later flown to a hospital in Indy where he has undergone several surgeries.

His family said he has several facial fractures, temporary eyesight loss, ruptured ear drums, burns, shrapnel wounds and a broken left arm.

"Being a cop is a dangerous job in this day and age and it's just part of the job," said Jim Caldwell, the brother-in-law of Sgt. Mills. "Every day, every other day there's a surgery and then there's discussion of the next one. It's hard to tell how quickly he'll be done down there. Hopefully we're nearing the end of the surgeries so he can be packed up and brought home again."

Caldwell said Sgt. Mills was helping to dispose of confiscated things after their routine training exercise, and something went terribly wrong, causing an explosion that he got caught in. The family thankful for the quick work by everyone at the scene.

"Thank God for the guys on the bomb squad that reacted quickly," Caldwell said. "As soon as it happened they pulled him out of the pit, they loaded him into a truck, they called for an ambulance. By the grace of God he's still here."

So far, Sgt. Mills has been through five surgeries with three or four more to go. His family said his positive spirit will help him pull through it all.

"He's got great spirits, he's going to come out of this," Caldwell said. "He's going to put his uniform back on and he'll be back at it again."

Wednesday, the SBPD released this statement to NewsCenter 16:

Sgt. Mills continues to recover and is in high spirits despite those severe injuries. SBPD thanks the officers of the Indy Metro Police who have been very supportive of Sgt. Mills and his family while he is in Indy for treatment. The same goes for the South Bend FOP #36, state FOP and our officers here who have gone to visit him regularly.

As with any investigation the police can't comment on the circumstances of what led to Sgt. MIlls' injuries because it is ongoing, but officers continue to visit him and offer their support for which he is ever grateful.

Right now Sgt. Mills has no feeling in his left arm. It took a huge blow from the explosion causing extensive nerve damage in his arm, but nurses helped put together a bionic arm on Tuesday that allows him to move his fingers and hand.

Doctors said surgery in a few weeks should fix it back to normal.

Caldwell also shared that Sgt. Mills had just bought new shatterproof glasses that they believe saved his eyesight. Again, just a blessing to still have him alive after everything.

The family said they don't want to show images of Sgt. Mills in the hospital because it is too difficult at this time for them to handle, but they are confident he will have a full recovery.

Sgt. Mills has been with SPBD for about 25 years and on the bomb squad for 16.