Dayton police officer who lost his leg in 2016 looking to qualify for 2024 Paralympics

DAYTON — A Dayton police officer who lost his leg while on duty in 2016 is now looking to compete for the US in the 2024 Paralympic Games.

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Officer Byron Branch was only six months into his job when he was struck by a car while investigating a crash on Interstate 75.

>> Previous Coverage: Dayton police officer wins gold medal in wheelchair fencing competition

“It was December 16, 2016. Just a normal day like any other day, but the weather took a turn,” Branch told News Center 7.

Freezing rain caused a string crashes alongI-75 north near route 35.

Branch went to check on a semi truck driver.

“He came out of his vehicle, I came out and said ‘hey, let’s talk the back of my car on the passenger side to be on the safe side, but by the time I got out, a car already lost control,” he said.

The car slid into his cruiser, hitting him. He lost his right leg in the crash.

The unfortunate event reignited his passion for the sport of fencing.

“I would say the sport primarily is about 90% mental, 10% physical. You just really got to out think you opponent,” Branch said.

Branch got involved with fencing in 2001 at Northmont High School.

“I still had all that knowledge and experience from doing able-bodied fencing standing up, I’ll see if I could transition it to sitting down now,” Branch said.

He said there was a huge learning curve, but he’s always had a natural knack for it.

“I think it’s just competition in general. I’ve been an athlete my entire life,” Branch said.

This sport has taken him all over the world, and recently to Brazil for the 2022 International Wheelchair and Amputee Sport Federation championship, where he took home a bronze and gold medal.

Next up is an important tournament in Washington D.C.

“The next tournament after that I want to say is in Italy and then France,” Branch said.

These three competitions are important because it could make or break his chances of qualifying for the 2024 Paralympics.

“I won that tournament in Brazil. So we’ll see what happens after D.C., kind of of slowly trying to get to the top 10,” Branch said.