Richard Browne jokes about it now, but the ringing and the flashes are serious reminders.
The U.S.’ best Paralympian sprinter and world-record holder counts himself fortunate after he said a pickup truck ran a red light and slammed into the passenger side where he was sitting in a Ford Fusion in early January.
“I’m happy it was on my prosthetic [leg] side, because if it was on my good side, I probably would have lost another leg,” he said, laughing, inside the Beverly Hills Hilton on Wednesday.
In 2007, Browne ripped his right leg when crashing through a glass door. He endured 13 surgeries before choosing amputation over the constant pain in 2010. He earned a Paralympic silver medal two years later and swept the 100m and 200m at the 2015 IPC World Championships in world-record times.
Browne’s story was profiled by USA Track and Field in a video published in October.
In January, the 24-year-old Browne was the lone passenger in a car driven by a friend in Orlando. He remembers pieces of the crash — a shower of broken glass and airbags deploying.
“Ringing, just a lot of ringing,” he said. “It was just like flashes. I remember an ambulance getting there and then … not much after, not much after.”
Browne suffered two broken ribs, another cracked rib and a concussion. The driver did not accrue major injuries.
“She walked out like it was nothing, kept apologizing” he said, adding that they both wore seat belts.
Browne’s manager put out a press release later that week after Browne was released from the hospital. Former NFL quarterback Daunte Culpepper, Usain Bolt and Browne’s chief rival, Brit Jonnie Peacock, reached out to check on him.
“It was really able to keep me upbeat,” Browne said. “I was more worried about missing so much training.”
The concussion kept him out three weeks.
“You literally can’t do anything except drink water,” he said. “Being around my [three] kids, they make loud noises, that hurt.”
This week, Browne joined more than 100 other U.S. Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls in Beverly Hills, Calif., for a pre-Games media summit.
Despite the crash, he’s sticking to a goal of competing in the U.S. Olympic trials 200m in Eugene in July. Browne broke the IPC world record in his division when he clocked 21.27 seconds to win the World title on Oct. 25.
He said Wednesday that he has run even faster, 21.0. The USA Track and Field qualifying standard to get into the trials is 20.50 seconds.
Can he knock off another half-second in the next three months, after what he’s been through?
“That’s easy,” Browne said.