Bryce Bezdek

Speaker, Writer, Survivor

   My story                                                                                                                                    

    I was a small town kid who grew up with a sense of family and honor. Service to God and my country was something I took to heart.  My father had served in both the U.S. Navy and the National Guard, and my parents had worked as missionaries in a disaster relief organization when I was young. I have two older sisters who both served in the military and entered service professions as well. After graduating high school I served four years in the Marine Corps and in that time married my high school sweetheart.  When my enlistment in the Marines ended I chose law enforcement as a career and headed to Cincinnati, OH to begin my journey as a police officer. I loved my job and was good at it. It was a direction that would dramatically be detoured, however.

     I had been on the department for 8 1/2 years and had achieved the rank of Sergeant. I also was selected to serve in a special assignment with the city's Traffic Unit patrolling the interstate highways, investigating crashes, and traffic enforcement. As a cop, traffic issues can be among the most dangerous situations that police officers face.

     In November of 2007, north of the city, a woman high on heroin initiated a police pursuit with a county deputy that traveled down Interstate 75 toward downtown. I went out to the highway and set up to assist fellow officers by throwing Stop Sticks to help end the chase. While another officer was able to deploy his Stop Sticks, I never had the chance to do so. The high speed chase took a turn as the drugged driver weaved in and out of traffic, clipped a pick-up truck, which in turn went spinning out of control, striking me at 33 mph before hitting my cruiser and sending me flying through the air before my head hit the base of a steel signpost.

     I sustained a traumatic brain injury, broken skull, fractured ribs, bruised lungs, a dissected carotid  artery, and several fractured vertebrae in my neck. As my Captain stated in court, many things had to go perfectly for me to still be here today. I credit faith, excellent medical care, and sheer determination for where I am today, by the healing grace of our heavenly Father. It is amazing how many things fell right into place - from the Air Care helicopter which was incredibly already in flight when dispatched, to the former paramedic that was doing a riding assignment from the police academy and was in one of the first cars on the scene. He and an off-duty paramedic that was stopped in traffic came directly to my aid, stabilizing my neck and helping me breathe until the helicopter landed and transported me to the hospital.

     At University Hospital, a level one trauma center that also trains Air Force personnel in the field of trauma medicine, the doctors gave me a 20% chance to live. I was placed under the care of a trauma surgeon who was a Colonel in the Air Force Medical Corps, whom had extensive experience treating traumatic brain injuries in the war overseas. I was in a coma for over a week and spent a year in rehabilitation at the Drake Center in Cincinnati learning to walk, talk, and eat again. I had to regain my balance, attention, and organizational skills.

     After therapy was finished, I went back to school on-line and completed my bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice. I was essentially forced to retire from the police department because my reaction time and performance under pressure has been compromised due to my brain injury. I have since worked with the Southwestern Ohio chapter of MADD assisting victims of drunk driving crashes and giving presentations to victims in the community and to prisoners in correctional institutions. I also have worked with ThinkFirst Injury Prevention giving presentations of my story and educating the public about brain injury. In 2009, my wife, Toni and I were the keynote speakers at the Northern Kentucky Brain Injury Conference where I was honored to be presented the Key to the City of Covington, KY. An article featuring my story also ran in the Morning Journal in Columbiana County Ohio following that conference. My story has also been featured on Local12 WKRC and Channel 9 WCPO in Cincinnati as well as in the Cincinnati Enquirer.

A few years after the crash, I ended up taking a disability retirement from the Cincinnati Police Department. I am currently a driver's license examiner in Columbiana County. I am the father of two and will have been married to my wife Toni for 22 years in 2019.

I hope to be an inspiration and encouragement to others, and to bring glory to God through the journey I have been and continue to be on. I am available to speak to police and community organizations and events, graduations, church groups, and schools. I am also currently organizing my thoughts to write a book based on my experiences.