Road to Recovery: State trooper returns to work after terrible semi crash

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.—Four years ago he was hit by a semi-truck and taken off the job. Now, Master Trooper Brian Snyder with the Indiana State Police (ISP) is finally healthy enough to work.

“I wanted to come back because this is all I’ve ever known—to be an Indiana State Trooper,” Snyder said in an interview Wednesday morning. He’s been on an arduous, and often painful, road to recovery consisting of nine surgeries on his back and hand over the past four years.

“It was nice to hear all the welcomes back and everything from all the people I used to work with,” said Snyder, “It was overwhelming you know to come back after being gone so long from the department.”

On March 6, 2013, at around two in the morning, snow was falling heavily throughout central Indiana. Snyder’s patrol car blocked the fast lane of I-65 near mile marker 92 to divert traffic from another crash farther down the road.

He’d just spoken to the wrecker and was walking back to his car when he saw a semi-truck move from the slow lane to the fast lane.

To avoid possible death, Snyder dove into the front seat of the car and braced himself for a crash.

“I instantly had pain in my back and in my hand because my hand was pinned in the door,” Snyder explained.

The driver of the semi-truck pulled over ahead of him and put their flashers on. For five minutes, Snyder said the truck sat there, the driver never came out, and then it suddenly drove off.

Doctors diagnosed Snyder with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome, or RSD for short. He was plagued with terrible pain even after the root of his injuries had healed.

“Doctors really gave up on me, they looked me in the eyes and said we’re going to have to medical retire you and there’s nothing we can do for you,” Snyder said he understood the medical retirement but the pain was still too much, “I said I can’t live like this.”

Finally, in September of 2016, Snyder had his ninth and final surgery. Doctors replaced the disc in his back with a plate and the pain seemed to instantly disappear. Snyder says he still has aches and pains, but it’s nothing he can’t handle.

“I honestly never thought I was going to get back.”

There are now two rods, six screws and a plate in his back. He worked with medical personnel with the ISP to get himself into good enough shape to return to work.

His entire life, Snyder said he has wanted to be an Indiana State Trooper. That’s what pushed him through the painful recovery.

“My wife and daughter are afraid for me to be out there at night—actually afraid for me to be out there at all. But they don’t want it to happen again.”

Snyder says he and all police officers have dangerous jobs, however he can’t see himself doing anything else.

When asked what he would say to the driver that hit him, Snyder says he would ask them how they could live with themselves.

“It’s a shame that all the police officers were so busy on crashes that night and he pulls out of there and leaves me. Who knows, he doesn’t know how bad I was,” Snyder explained, “He knew that he hit me.”

The driver of the semi-truck has never been found.

Snyder resumed his former midnight shift with the Indiana State Police two weeks ago. He says he’s still adjusting to some of the changes in the computers and other systems, but he’s happy to be back on the job.

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