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AURORA, Colo. — An exchange of gunfire in Aurora earlier this month left one of the department’s officers wounded. The officer’s life was likely saved by the bulletproof vest he was wearing.

Because of the ongoing investigation, the 17th Judicial District will not allow the officer to tell his story.

An officer who was shot a few years ago shares the same pain and the same story of how a vest saved his life.

“It made me grateful for life,” Lt. David Cernich with the Aurora Police Department said. “It’s ingrained in my head.”

July 12, 1999 is when then-Arapahoe County sheriff’s deputy David Cernich was shot while responding to a traffic stop.

“Young man shot me right in the chest, actually just to the right of sternum,” Cernich said.

While protective gear doesn’t always work 100 percent of the time, Cernich says it worked for him.

“At least I believe it saved my life,” Cernich said.

A vest saved his colleague’s life too. Just a few weeks ago an Aurora police officer was hit when he responded to an active scene.

That officer survived after the bullet hit his vest.

“I am extremely proud of this officer and his duty that he performed that night,” Cernich said. “When I think of that incident, I really do fall back onto my incident, circumstances are different, result is the same.”

There might be decades between Cernich’s story and the one of the Aurora officer who was hit this month, but the scars are the same.

“Physically, it feels like you’re hit with a baseball bat, but more importantly is the psychological effects it has on you,” Cernich said.

The officer who was shot a few weeks ago is back at work, but not on the streets in any enforcement capacity.