On April 4, 2003, Kevin Trees of Louisville, KY decided to take a ride on his motorcycle before heading out to pick up his kids from school in the afternoon. But 30 minutes into the ride and as Kevin was returning home, his entire life changed in an instant when, without warning, his motorcycle hit a bad patch of road which caused him to lose control and slam into a tree with the right side of his body. Laying in a pool of blood and fighting for his life, the accident left him with a broken left tibia, a broken right forearm, a shattered right hand and a destroyed right hip. The most critical injury was his right knee which exploded into 30 pieces when it slammed into the base of the tree. After arriving at the hospital, Kevin stayed in the Intensive Care Unit for two months. For the next two years, Kevin fought through 33 surgeries as doctors unsuccessfully tried to repair broken bones and torn muscles and save his right knee. Most doctors told Kevin he’d never walk again and told him his career as a police officer was finished.
Finally in October of 2005, two and a half years after Kevin’s accident, doctors determined there was nothing more that could be done to save his right leg. Kevin was faced with two options, live in a wheelchair the rest of his days or move on with his life pain free but as an amputee; Kevin hesitantly elected to have his leg amputated above the knee. A week after the surgery, Kevin met with Matthew Hayden of Kentucky Prosthetics and began working on moving forward with life. Encouragingly, Matt told Kevin that with Otto Bock’s C-Leg, he would have the ability to do 96% of the activities he did before the accident.
In November of 2005, a month later, Kevin was fit with his new C-Leg and started doing physical therapy immediately. Armed with his high-tech prosthetic, Kevin quickly outpaced the therapist’s expectations and finished his therapy schedule ahead of time. Kevin sought more training and therapy with the goal of returning to the police department and started doing Karate and ground fighting to gain confidence and balance. Again his C-Leg was instrumental in his success. Finally in April of 2006, three long and difficult years after Kevin’s accident which left him for dead and cost him his leg, Kevin defied the odds and was sworn back in as a police officer for the Louisville Metro Police department. He became only one of less than four above knee amputee police officers in the country and the first ever in the state of Kentucky. Kevin went on to fly in the Air Unit for two years before becoming a homicide detective for another three years. He was even featured on the A&E channel’s First48 during the highest ever rated premier show of season ten. In September of 2010, Kevin was promoted to sergeant and was reassigned to his old division in the west end of Louisville where he began his career almost 12 years earlier.
Today, in his free time, Kevin lifts weights and spends many hours during the football season walking the sideline coaching his son’s team. He also works on his muscle car and writes music. No longer confined to crutches and wheelchairs, he challenged Matthew Hayden’s commitment to doing 96% of what he did before the accident and surpassed even that; there is very little he can’t do.
Dealt a bad hand from life, Kevin was determined to overcome monumental odds and remain in the career he loved and cherished. Most importantly, he wanted to continue to be the father and husband he was before the accident. There is no doubt in Kevin’s mind, without Kentucky Prosthetics and Otto Bock’s technologically advance C-Leg, he would not have been able to remain in the challenging field of law enforcement as an above knee amputee where difficult terrain and situations require balance and confidence; both for which his prosthetic leg provides. Go looking for Kevin today off the job and you might find him running in the backyard with the kids or jumping on the trampoline again, or his wife might have him mowing the grass. “Kentucky Prosthetics helped give me a new lease on life; they helped allow me to continue to be a productive member of society as well as to continue to be the dad, husband, and cop I was before my accident.”
Check out KM Trees book The Serious Business of Laughing at Life