A Dayton Police Department officer was in stable condition at Miami Valley Hospital on Saturday after he was hit by a vehicle on northbound Interstate 75 near U.S. Route 35 while outside his cruiser late.
Officer Byron Branch has been identified as in the injured officer. A Dayton police spokeswoman said Saturday that a press release and more information will be available Monday.
Branch was outside of his vehicle late Friday night checking on an accident as freezing rain made driving conditions dangerous, police said.
A male driver told an emergency dispatcher that he then hit Branch, according to a recording of the 9-1-1 call obtained by this news organization.
“I had a bad accident. I flipped and then I hit a police car, I hit a police officer,” the man told the dispatcher. “It’s a bad wreck. I need police assistance down here right now, please.”
The caller said the officer was laying down and bleeding from his head. The 9-1-1 caller alternately said the officer was moving and awake, then unconscious and then later that he was alert and talking.
The dispatcher told the man to place a clean, dry cloth on the other man’s wounds and to confirm that the injured man was a Dayton police officer.
A Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office sergeant told this news organization that Branch was unconscious when crews responded. A news crew at the scene said a wrecker removed two SUVs and the police cruiser from the scene. The police cruiser appeared to have minor rear-end damage.
The accident shut down I-75 North and U.S. 35 in both directions. A truck was putting down salt in the area where the accident happened.
An Ohio Department of Transportation camera was iced over, so an image taken at 11:50 p.m. Friday — a short time after the crash — doesn’t provide any information.
It’s been nearly 19 years since two area first responders died while working on icy area roads.
On Jan. 12, 1998, Centerville Police Officer John P. Kalaman and Washington Twp. Firefighter Robert J. O’Toole both died after being struck by a car on Interstate-675. Firefighter Charles Arnold also was seriously injured.
All three men had stopped to assist in investigating a collision. Another driver lost control of their vehicle and struck the men while they were in the highway’s median.
Kalaman and O’Toole’s deaths spurred the U.S. Congress to study the safety of emergency personnel at roadside emergencies.
Ohio, like many states, enacted its version of a “move over/slow down” law that requires motorists to move over or slow down when approaching emergency vehicles with their lights activated.
I-675, which runs northeasterly and southwesterly in Montgomery, Greene and Clark counties, is officially named the John Kalaman and Robert O’Toole Memorial Highway.