Byron’s Story: Police Officer Survives Highway Crash 

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Byron Branch had been a full-time police officer for just eight months when his wife, Brittany, had the scare of her life one winter night.

“I heard a knock at the door. It’s like, after midnight, and it took me a while to wake up,” she says. “I went to the spare room and looked out the window. I saw it was a police car.

“I kept telling myself, ‘He’s probably dead. Why else would they come out, all the way out here tonight to pick me up in these horrible conditions?’” 

Focusing On “What I Can Do”

Bryan Tyler Camden, Byron’s friend at the Dayton Police Academy, was at work when he heard a tone that indicated a pedestrian strike on the highway. He remembers thinking to himself, “Who in their right mind is on the highway in this weather?” It didn’t cross his mind that it could be a police officer, responding to a crash.

Byron was out of his car responding to a crash when another vehicle lost control and slammed into his car, pinning him against the guardrail. When Bryan arrived on the scene, Byron was in and out of consciousness.

“But he was still with us, and that was all I really cared about,” Bryan says. Byron had a bad head injury and his right leg was severely injured.

Within minutes, Dayton EMS arrived and took Byron to Miami Valley Hospital.

“I know it’s a given, with that kind of injury, you’re going to Miami Valley,” Bryan says.

Trauma surgeon Akpofure Peter Ekeh, MD, FACS, says that Byron had what is often referred to as “a mangled extremity. It was an open fracture. His tibia and fibula on the right leg were broken, and it was an open wound. He was actively bleeding.”

Byron’s leg was so damaged it could not be saved. “He underwent an amputation,” Dr. Ekeh says. “Sometimes we have to make that very difficult decision. Sometimes we call it life over limb.”

A doctor went to the waiting room to tell Brittany.

“I was thinking for like two hours that he was dead, so I was like, ‘We can deal with an amputation.’ Whatever else comes is going to be easy compared to what I thought was going on,” she says. 

Once stable, Byron was moved to the medical-surgical intensive care unit. His head wound was a laceration, and there was no brain damage. All major organs were fine.

“The design of Miami Valley Hospital, and the trauma center, is something that has been very well planned, tried and tested throughout the years,” says Dr. Ekeh. “The way our teams function, and the ways we continuously try to improve…this was an example of the team, the trauma team, at a Level I Center working together.”

Focusing On “What I Can Do”

“95 percent of recovery is mental. Five percent is physical,” says Byron. “I decided I’m not going to focus on what I can’t do. I’m only going to focus on what I can do. What I can do is recover and get back to work. I really know who I am and what I’m capable of. For that reason, I didn’t ever see there being a problem with me being able to be right back where I was prior to being injured.”

Byron and Brittany’s daughter was 10 months old at the time of the accident. “She pretty much learned to walk with his walker,” Brittany says. “She now likes Byron to take her on wheelchair rides around our house, and she waves like she’s in a parade. She has no idea. She sees his leg and says, ‘Daddy.’”

Dr. Ekeh says that Byron was not only very physically fit, but more importantly, very motivated. “He had such a wonderful attitude and outlook, and had the view that he was going to make it through this.”

Brittany is very appreciative of the care she and Byron received at Miami Valley Hospital. “We had so many nurses that we really loved on every unit,” she says. “They took great care of him, and they took great care of me.”

Byron is grateful to Miami Valley Hospital for helping him when he needed it. “That’s the least and the most we can ask for people, or ask from people, is just to be there when you need them.”

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