Wounded Oregon officer going back on patrol

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CORVALLIS, Ore. — A Benton County sheriff's officer seriously wounded in a gunfight with a car theft suspect in August 2012 is returning to duty next week.

Sgt. David Peterson will be on the same night shift he was on when he and other officers responded to a report of a trespasser who fled in a stolen car, Sheriff Scott Jackson said Wednesday.

When the officers tracked down Demecio Cardenas Jr., Peterson and a Salem police officer, Cpl. Andrew Connolly, were wounded.

Peterson, who was shot three times, nearly died and has undergone two major surgeries, four surgical procedures and eight months of physical therapy, the sheriff said. The officer started desk work part time last December and began full-time desk work in May. Connolly, shot in the leg, is still recovering.

Cardenas, also hit, is serving 20 years for attempted murder and assault, Jackson said.

"It is impossible to ever truly thank everyone involved in saving my life that night and those that helped me through this intense recovery ..." Peterson said in a statement, adding, "I am ecstatic to be able to return to the people and job that I love."

Peterson told the Corvallis Gazette-Times that he passed his firearm certification on Tuesday -- the last requirement before he was ready for duty. It was his 31st birthday.