Dayton officer helped save colleague injured in icy crash

Byron Branch is a rookie Dayton police officer, a newlywed and a new father. His father was a Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office deputy and his mother still works for the county.

But on Friday night, it was a member of his other family — a fellow Dayton cop — that might have saved Branch's life by using a tourniquet to stop bleeding until paramedics arrived.

VIDEO: Emergency crews respond to scene

Branch was seriously injured late Friday evening when a driver lost control on Interstate 75 and his car hit Branch's cruiser.

The cruiser then struck Branch — who was outside his vehicle — and the driver of a semi involved in an earlier accident that Branch was investigating during freezing rain on an icy stretch on I-75 North near U.S. Route 35. The man whose car hit Branch's cruiser called 911 to report it and ask for assistance.

“A Dayton police officer did render aid,” Dayton police Chief Richard Biehl said during a Monday press conference. “That aid was crucial in helping him survive this event.”

Biehl said both Branch and the semi driver were taken to Miami Valley Hospital and are receiving ongoing medical treatment. Branch was said to be in stable condition.

Biehl didn’t name the main officer who assisted, instead calling a 3 p.m. press conference today to share more details.

But on social media, Branch’s family publicly thanked Dayton officer Bryan Camden for his actions. One post said: “Your are our hero.”

A response from a Bryan Camden said: “It wasn’t just me, it was a team effort, and I would do it again and again to make sure my friends and fellow officers are safe.

“Please let me know if there’s any more I can for you guys during this difficult time, and thank you for supporting me as much as you’re supporting him.”

Branch, who Biehl said fenced at a national level, was sworn in April 8 and is still in his probationary period.

The chief said Branch was spoken highly of by police academy staff that trained him, calling the rookie officer, “very disciplined, very focused, very committed.”

A blog written by a Dayton police officer indicated that officer helped train Branch.

“When you ride in a car for 10 hours a day for 2 months, a bond forms,” a blog post stated. “When you ride with me, you usually get a home-cooked dinner made by my wife most shifts. This officer had become not only a part of my BLUE Family, but a part of my regular family.

“My kids loved having him here. My rookies are always super stars to my kids. I enjoyed training him because he was smart, could get the paperwork done quick, and loved getting into stuff.”

In another post, the officer asked for people to continue to wish for the best for Branch and his family and for drivers to slow down if they see flashing lights on the road ahead.

The officer wrote that, during a visit in the hospital, Branch asked about the officer’s children: “Hit by a car, horrible injuries, just got out of surgery … and he wants to know how my kids are.”

A bank account to help Branch and his family was set up at KeyBank by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 44. People can donate to the Officer Byron Branch Donation Account at any KeyBank location.

Biehl thanked the community for an outpouring of prayers and concern for Branch and said the department rallied as word of the accident and the extent of Branch’s injuries spread.

“We mobilized; one of us was in need of aid so we responded fully to that,” the chief said. “It was shocking to all of us. It was a shock to the family, but we’re very optimistic about his recovery and his return to duty.”

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