Injury to Dayton officer revives memories for local family

KETTERING, Ohio (WDTN) – An officer-involved traffic accident on I-75 late Friday night has a Kettering couple vividly recalling their own tragedy.

Dayton Police Officer Byron Branch is still in the hospital after being badly hurt after being crashed into while responding to an accident on icy roads.

A similar kind of crash killed a local police officer and firefighter nearly 19 years ago.

“It hurts like yesterday,” said Paula Kalaman about her son, Centerville Police Officer John Kalaman.

It was January of 1998 when Paula and her husband John Kalaman lost their son while he was at the scene of a car accident on I-675 when another vehicle lost control on the icy roads and hit and killed him and a Washington Township firefighter.

“I don’t know why these things have to keep on happening,” she said in regards to the incident that injured Officer Branch.

Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl gave an update on the investigation Monday afternoon and said a driver lost control of their vehicle due to slippery road conditions, hit Branch’s cruiser, which sent it into the rookie cop and another person.

“Both sustained serious injuries and are currently receiving ongoing medical treatment,” Chief Biehl said.

Officer Branch was sworn-in on April 8, 2016. 2NEWS also learned he’s a newlywed and recent father.

“Very new officer, spoke very highly of by the academy staff that trained him,” said Chief Biehl.

Friday night’s accident remains under investigation and the Kalaman’s know the Branch family’s pain.

The Kalaman’s turned their agony into action. Following the death of their son, they were instrumental in getting the “Move Over, Slow Down” law passed in Ohio.

No matter the weather, but especially when the road conditions are poor, they encourage drivers to be mindful of first responders.

“There are people out there your grandmother, your mother your sister, brother their jeopardy is the same as everybody else. Just, drive with common sense,” Paula Kalaman said.

Dayton police chief Richard Biehl said late Monday that he is very optimistic of Officer Branch’s recovery and possible return to duty.

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