LMPD :: Louisville Metro Police Department

Officer Loses Leg But Not Courage To Overcome


If a police officer loses a leg in an accident, it pretty much means losing his job. In fact, city officials know of only three officers in the country who have returned to work after having a leg amputated -- well, make that four now. Scott Reynolds brings us the story of the amazing comeback of Louisville Metro Police Officer Kevin Trees.

When you see a police helicopter in action, you might think it has something to do with traffic or a crime. But regardless of the situation, with Officer Trees at the controls, it's all about courage.

Trees lost control of his motorcycle three years ago, and nearly lost his life. Even LMPD Chief Robert White police believed Trees would never be back on duty again. "If I was a gambling man, I would have given him a thousand-to-one odds that it wasn't going to happen."

The near tragedy happened just three weeks after Trees received the Louisville Officer of the Year award in 2003. His right leg was severely injured, and after a two-and-a-half year battle and 33 surgeries, doctors finally had to amputate.

But Trees wasn't satisfied with a desk job, so he decided to fight to return to active duty outside the confines of the police station. He hopes his determination sets an example for his kids as well as other people with similar leg injuries -- like soldiers returning from battle in Iraq.

So Trees shunned walkers and crutches, and endured sleepless nights in agonizing pain. "If my purpose for being on this Earth nowise to lose a leg and inspire other people, then so be it. I'm completely satisfied with that."

Now, he uses karate to help give him the confidence to handle any situation an officer might encounter, training with fellow officer and 20-year expert in karate, Major Bill Weedman.

"This man's got two good legs, Weedman said. "The only difference is he can take one of them off."

Chief White says "he's probably back in as good of shape as 80 percent of the police officers. And he's not satisfied with that. I don't know if I've met an individual that was just so determined to get to a certain place in life. And Kevin never gave up."

So the next time you see a Louisville police chopper, just remember, the pilot could be Kevin Trees, an officer who doesn't see himself living with a disability -- he's living out his dreams. "I feel like I'm the luckiest guy in the world," Trees said. "And I don't take anything for granted."

Officer Trees didn't surprise everyone. His good friend Major Weedman says he knew about Trees' perseverance and dedication, and correctly predicted he'd be back to work at Churchill Downs for the Derby.

He's expected to be flying solo for LMPD sometime this summer.