‘It’s a journey’: Montgomery Co. police sergeant remains positive, on road to recovery after losing both legs

WTOP's Steve Dresner speaks to Sgt. Patrick Kepp about where his journey will take him next

Patrick Kepp knows his life is different now — he’s already experienced things he’s only read about or seen on TV. However, the veteran Montgomery County, Maryland, police sergeant never expected he would require a form of “critical care” or need to learn how to walk again.

Early on the morning of Oct. 18, the 36-year-old experienced what most law enforcement personnel would consider a devastating crash, which resulted in both of his legs being amputated.

Today, 10 surgical procedures later, he’s finally on a positive but lengthy path to recovery and rehabilitation. He was able to wheel himself out of the hospital on Dec. 7.

“It’s just been different,” Kepp told WTOP from a workout room at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. “It’s been difficult and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t difficult. It’s a journey, and I have to accept every part of it and … roll with it for now.”

It’s been two months since that fateful day on Interstate 270, when 19-year-old Raphael Mayorga, of Frederick, intentionally struck Kepp. The officer was attempting to stop Mayorga who was suspected of driving drunk. Kepp parked his cruiser on the crossover of the interstate and got out to deploy “stop sticks” to deflate the tires of the swerving car.

“The vehicle is observed actually intentionally moving from the middle lanes to the far left lanes and Mayorga came directly at Sgt. Kepp as he was deploying the ‘stop sticks,'” Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones said after the incident. “He intentionally struck Sgt. Kepp in the main lanes of I-270.”

Kepp said he has been nothing less than “shocked” by how much acknowledgment and support he has received from all sorts of people.

“It took me a while to realize that there are people from around the world that this [incident] has impacted. I’ve had some pretty famous people reach out to me and I still can’t believe it,” he said.

Moving forward

What does the road to recovery and putting your life back together entail for Kepp?

For now, his new living quarters will be at Walter Reed along, his time filled with physical and occupational therapy sessions.

But one of the most remarkable things about Kepp is how he has already affected the lives of others.

Kepp told a story about a potential recruit that had doubts about joining the police force until he heard Jones speaking about his recovery during a press conference. Jones talked about Kepp’s desire to one day return to duty in some capacity, despite his life-altering injuries.

“It gave that person hope and changed their mind about joining the force,” he said.

For now, Kepp is letting his actions speak louder than words during his recovery journey.

There’s no definitive timeframe for when he’ll permanently leave Walter Reed. There’s plenty of learning ahead for both Kepp and the community supporting him.

WTOP's Steve Dresner speaks to Sgt. Patrick Kepp about how his accident has changed his life and touched countless others
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