Investigators have not yet interviewed Branch and do not know his exact location when the sport utility vehicle struck, but Biehl indicated it was possible the semi-truck driver from Michigan and Branch were each standing outdoors near the rear of the police cruiser when the SUV struck the cruiser.
“There is a possibility the (police) car compressed the two individuals against the guardrail, which could result in crushing injuries,” Biehl said. “Again, we’re not exactly sure of how exactly those injuries occurred, whether the guardrail played a role or not.”
Video and audio from the scene released Tuesday capture Branch stating his right leg caused him pain. A website created by Branch’s family after the incident states the officer’s leg was amputated out of necessity “to save his life,” but Biehl would not specify the extent of the officer’s injuries.
“He continues to get ongoing care,” Biehl said, noting there is “no clear indication” of when the officer will be released the hospital. “His injury was extensive.”
The uninjured driver of the GMC reported the crash to 911 — something for which Biehl said Branch expressed gratitude. Biehl also commended the Montgomery County emergency dispatcher who guided the 911 caller to press an orange emergency call button on Branch’s radio, allowing other officers to find the scene.
Biehl said it was “really too early to tell” if charges would be brought against the SUV driver, noting investigators need to determine if speed unreasonable for the road conditions was a factor.
The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 44 established a donation account for Branch’s family at KeyBank. Donations to the Officer Byron Branch Donation Account may be made at any KeyBank branch.