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Gregg County deputy returns to work after extended battle against COVID-19

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Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 6:58 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - After a long battle with COVID-19 and a long recovery period, an East Texas deputy is back on the job.

Gregg County Sheriff’s Office Corporal James Hagler was once hospitalized in a comatose state with COVID-19.

Today he made a much anticipated return to work.

Stepping on to the qualifying range at the Marvin A. Smith Criminal Justice Center, Hagler did what he first needed to do to go back to work.

Qualify with his handgun.

“I feel like I did really well, considering the fact that I haven’t been able to do much for the past four or five months,” James said.

He signed his papers and was sworn in by Sheriff Maxey Cerliano.

“It feels great to be back in the saddle for sure. It’s been a long ride, a long road to recovery,” Hagler said.

Once in a comatose state, he fought a four-month battle with Covid, and was released from a hospital in April, having difficulty walking but glad to be out.

“Finally got here and it feels like a tremendous weight off my shoulders. My wife has been a trooper through this whole ordeal,” he says.

His co-workers say they were not surprised he made it all the way back.

“He never gave up. We knew he was coming but reality never set in until he walked in wearing his uniform. Saw him looking like the James that we knew when he left,” said Gregg County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Josh Tubb.

For James, it’s a new perspective in life.

“Enjoy the little things. The things that you can do already. Take pride in what you can do. Because you don’t understand what you’ve been able to do, until you can’t do it anymore,” says Hagler.

James will continue on light duty with the sheriff’s office until he fully recovers.

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