A police officer in Montgomery County, Maryland, suffered the loss of both legs after a horrifying car crash on Interstate 270, where a 19-year-old driver is now facing charges of attempted murder.
The incident began in the early hours of October 18, and has left the community in shock.
Sergeant Patrick Kepp, 36, is currently hospitalized and battling serious injuries after being struck by a green Dodge Challenger on Interstate 270.
The police confirmed that both of his legs had to be amputated. Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones expressed the department’s concern and support.
“We find ourselves praying for the recovery of one of our own,” Marcus stated.
The alleged perpetrator, 19-year-old Raphael Mayorga of Frederick, Maryland, was charged with attempted first-degree murder.
Prior to the crash, Mayorga had been clocked by officers driving at speeds exceeding 110 mph near the Clarksburg Premium Outlets.
Mayorga was already well-known to the police, and had a history of multiple charges related to speeding and reckless driving, according to Chief Jones.
Sgt. Kepp also had a history with Mayorga, having arrested him in May for driving at an alarming 136 mph in a 55 mph zone on I-270 and citing a prior dozen reckless driving incidents according to the arrest report.
Police confirmed that Mayorga had been involved in high-speed chases on multiple separate occasions, including one in April 2021 and another in April of the current year.
“In the four previous chases, he outran the police,” Montgomery County State Attorney John McCarthy said. “There are limitations on police pursuit policies and what they’re allowed to do.”
Chief Jones described Mayorga’s penchant for reckless driving, noting that he had been known for speeding, performing dangerous maneuvers like “doughnuts,” running red lights and attempting to bait officers into pursuing him, creating a perilous situation resembling a video game.
On the fateful morning, officers decided to employ stop sticks to halt Mayorga’s car. They observed him exiting and re-entering the highway in both northbound and southbound directions, nearly causing another vehicle to veer off the road.
Mayorga eventually changed lanes to the far left, where Sgt. Kepp was stationed, and ran directly into the sergeant.
“He intentionally struck Sgt. Kepp,” Chief Jones stated unequivocally.
Sgt. Kepp himself reported the crash via 911 dispatch. “I got hit… I need fire rescue,” he said.
According to court documents, Mayorga admitted to knowing that he had hit Kepp.
If not for the lifesaving efforts of first responders, Kepp’s injuries could have been fatal. Unfortunately, both legs had to amputated due to the catastrophic injury.
During Mayorga’s court appearance, a judge ordered him to be held without bond and discussed the danger he posed to the community.
County prosecutors highlighted Mayorga’s history of reckless driving, including four high-speed chases in the past year, where authorities say he seemed to dare police officers to catch him.
Prosecutors also noted that at the time of the crash, Mayorga had an active bench warrant in Montgomery County for his arrest due to a violation of the terms of his bond on a previous charge.
Sgt. Kepp, meanwhile, has received awards for his work in removing dangerous drivers from the road. He is currently undergoing surgery and faces a long road to recovery.
“Our prayers go out to this officer and his family, because he has profound, serious injuries that will disable him for the rest of his life as a result of this,” McCarthy said.
Mayorga is expected to make several more court appearances related to prior charges, and if convicted for the attempted murder of Kepp, he could face a potential life sentence in prison.