Interstate 270 (I-270)

Maryland officer loses legs after teen driver ‘intentionally' hits him on I-270: police

Montgomery County Sgt. Patrick Kepp lost the use of his legs after 19-year-old driver Raphael Mayorga hit him with a Dodge Challenger before dawn Wednesday, police said. The driver was clocked at 110 mph before the devastating crash

NBC Universal, Inc.

A police officer in Montgomery County, Maryland, had both legs amputated, and a 19-year-old driver is charged with attempted murder after police believe the teen intentionally hit the officer on Interstate 270 early Wednesday, authorities say.

Sgt. Patrick Kepp, 36, is hospitalized and seriously injured after he was hit by a green Dodge Challenger before dawn. Police confirmed that both of his legs were amputated.

“We find ourselves praying for the recovery of one of our own,” Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones said.

Raphael Mayorga, of Frederick, Maryland, was charged with attempted first-degree murder. Before the crash, officers clocked him speeding over 110 mph near the Clarksburg Premium Outlets. He has previously faced multiple charges for speeding and reckless driving, Jones said. It wasn’t immediately clear if he has a lawyer.

Mayorga was well known to Kepp, who arrested him in May for driving 136 mph in a 55 mph zone on I-270. Mayorga also was arrested after high-speed chases twice before, in April 2021 and again this past April.

The police chief said officers know the driver for speeding, doing doughnuts, running red lights and trying to “bait officers into chasing him, as if this is some type of video game.”

Officers decided to put out stop sticks to force Mayorga’s car to stop after they saw him exiting and reentering the highway headed both northbound and southbound, and after he nearly ran another car off the road, Jones said.

Mayorga changed lanes from the middle of I-270 to the far left, where Kepp was, Jones said.

“He intentionally struck Sgt. Kepp,” he said.

Without lifesaving efforts by first responders, Kepp would have died, Jones said.

“He has lost the use of both his legs,” the chief said early Wednesday afternoon.

A police officer is seriously hurt after being hit by a vehicle while setting up stop sticks on Interstate 270. News4’s Joseph Olmo reports with the latest.

Sgt. Kepp called for help

Police were trying to stop the driver on northbound I-270 just before 4 a.m. when the driver hit Kepp as he put out stop sticks on the highway, police said. Police use stop sticks, which have spikes, to deflate tires and slow down vehicles.

Kepp was hit north of Exit 12, near Watkins Mill Road.

According to the 911 dispatch recording, Kepp reported the crash himself.

“I got hit ... I need fire rescue," he said.

“Am I reading that correct? That a police officer was struck by a vehicle?” the dispatcher can be heard saying.

“Yes, that’s correct," a responding officer said.

First responders applied a tourniquet, and Kepp was rushed to a hospital via helicopter.

An officer is seriously injured after they were hit by a vehicle on Interstate 270, Montgomery County police say. A portion of the interstate is closed, and drivers can expect delays. News4’s Joseph Olmo has the latest.

Mayorga kept driving until he reached an area where a second officer had set up stop sticks. Officers were able to stop the car and take Mayorga and a passenger into custody.

In an update, police said the passenger will be treated as a witness and will not be charged.

Police initially said officers were pursuing a suspected DUI driver. They said in an update that medical results for Mayorga were pending. An investigation is underway.

Following the crash, police told drivers to use alternate routes and expect significant delays. The crash caused about six hours of backups along northbound I-270.

Kepp serves in the police department’s Alcohol Initiatives Unit. He joined the force in 2014. In December 2021, he received an award that recognizes officers' work in the fight against impaired driving.

Stopping repeat reckless drivers

At a joint news conference with police on Wednesday afternoon, County Executive Marc Elrich called for action to stop repeat reckless drivers and pursue “criminalizing this in a different way.”

Elrich conveyed his sympathy to Kepp.

“This is a sacrifice he shouldn’t have had to make, and I feel for his family,” he said.

Mayorga is due in court Thursday.

Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story.

Contact Us