INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Each morning students, parents and staff at North Central High School start their day with a wave from the traffic control officer.
"Kids sometimes call him Officer Smiley," NCHS Principal Evans Branigan said.
"It doesn't matter. It could be 10 degrees below zero, and he's always smiling," NCHS PTO President Stacy Lozer said.
But this week, he was noticeably missing from the MSD of Washington Township.
Friday, the district said a traffic control officer was hit by a driver traveling on 86th St. and released this statement:
This morning during regular drop off at North Central High School, the traffic control officer who directs traffic at the East entrance, was struck by a driver, traveling East on 86th street. The officer was transported to the hospital and is receiving treatment for his injuries. Our thoughts are with our North Central High School and Washington Township traffic and security officer as we wish him a full recovery.
"I look at it like I'm here because we're a family. We're like a quilt, if I'm not there I feel heartbroken," traffic control officer Tony Taylor said.
Anthony 'Tony' Taylor, 63, is now in the hospital recovering. He is expected to be moved out of the ICU at Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Hospital Monday. But Taylor said his biggest frustration wasn't his injuries, but being away from the job he's so passionate about and the kids he works to leave an impact on.
"When he's at our athletic events, when he's at our performing arts events, Officer Taylor demonstrates care and compassion at all times to our kids and our families," Branigan said.
Families consider Taylor a part of their own. In 2018 the district awarded him the Above and Beyond Award.
Since Friday, a GoFundMe account started by his supervisor has raised nearly $30,000.
"Now that part I didn't expect," Taylor said in an emotional moment.
But the support doesn't stop there.
"We will start meal delivery, gift certificates for groceries and food so the support doesn't just end and the cards are flowing in," Lozer said.
The school district released this statement Monday:
"The MSD of Washington Township is not surprised by the outpouring of concern and care shown by the school community for Officer Tony Taylor. Students and families see him every day and for many, he is the first person that they see when they arrive on campus, and the last person who they see before departing; and when they see him, it is always with a smile and usually a word of encouragement. Officer Taylor is not only relied upon for safety in our district, but he is also someone who goes above and beyond to care for every member of his community. In fact, Mr. Taylor was awarded the 2018 Above and Beyond Award at the district End of the Year Celebration last May. Our continued healing thoughts are with Mr. Taylor for a full and speedy recovery."
"I can't say it enought that I feel so special," Taylor said.
Meanwhile, Taylor reminded drivers to go back to the basics of driving, and take a moment of pause when you see a traffic control officer working in the street. It's where he plans to be again when he's recovered.
"I'm not afraid of doing what I do because it's something that's embedded in my soul right now," he said.