By Alison Knezevich
The Baltimore Sun
BALTIMORE — Maryland State Trooper Jacqueline Kline was grateful to return to work after months of medical care, she says, but it's tough for her to listen to the dispatch radio at the Glen Burnie Barrack.
"It's very frustrating because I just want to get back on the road," the 26-year-old said Tuesday in her first public comments since she was critically injured in a car crash in October.
Kline was assisting a fellow police officer who had pulled over a suspected drunken driver on Route 100 in Pasadena when she was struck by a passing car.
She was thrown onto the hood of the passing car, then onto a police vehicle, police said. She hit the back window and a metal cage inside.
She suffered a traumatic brain injury in the crash.
Kline returned to light duty about a month ago. She says she hopes her experience reminds drivers to look out for the safety of emergency responders and anyone else who is stopped at the side of the road.
"Nothing's worth it," she said. "Nobody should wish this on their worst enemy."
Maryland law requires motorists to move over whenever possible as they approach a stopped emergency vehicle with its lights on. Pasadena resident Enrique Guzman Jr., 21, was cited for violating that law, and also for negligent driving in the crash.
Kline received an outpouring of support from family, friends and strangers after she was hit. Hundreds turned out in November for a 5K run to raise money for her. She even received well wishes from people to whom she had written citations, she told reporters on Tuesday.
"I couldn't have done it without everybody's help," she said. "Everybody's been so generous and helpful."
Kline says she remembers nothing about the crash.
"I was completely knocked out."
Kline says she became a state trooper to follow in the footsteps of her stepfather, a trooper in New Jersey. When she was still in a neck brace in the hospital, she asked doctors when she could get back to work.
"I'm a very hyper person as it is, very motivated," she said.
Trooper Justin Fohs, the officer Kline assisted in October when she was hit, credited Kline's personality for her recovery.
"She's a fighter," Fohs said. "She kept herself going."
Kline spent more than a month in the hospital, and is still in a doctor's care. Although she has been cleared to drive a departmental vehicle again, she says she is not sure when she will be ready to return to the road. The brain injury has caused her to be forgetful, she says.
Kline says she believes she's been given a second chance in life — and that's inspired her to help others and make them happy.
"I want to do everything right," she said. "I feel like I'm here for a reason."
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