Off-duty Norristown police officer fatally injured in biking accident

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A Montgomery County police officer who survived a rare form of cancer to complete six full Ironman events was fatally injured in a weekend crash while training on his bike in Lancaster County for this fall’s Ironman World Championship, officials said Monday.

Norristown Police Corporal. Brian R. Kozera, 44, of Blue Bell was pronounced dead at 10.51 a.m. on Saturday by a doctor at Reading Hospital, where he was airlifted following the crash, the deputy coroner said Berks County Chief, George Holmes.

Kozera died of internal injuries and the death was ruled accidental.

Holmes said the brief summary provided to his office by Lancaster County State Police indicates that Kozera swerved into the path of the pickup truck that hit him. Holmes did not know the location of the accident.

Lancaster Station State Police investigated but did not release any information. A spokesperson for Troop J, which includes the Lancaster station, was unavailable.

Norristown FOP Lodge #31 posted this message Saturday on the police department’s Facebook page: “Today we received tragic news that one of our own, 16-year-old veteran Corporal. Brian Kozera, died of injuries sustained in a work accident. Pray for his family and friends during this difficult time. »

Kozera, a husband and father of three daughters, was training for the Ironman World Championship scheduled for October in Kona, Hawaii.

He wrote in social media posts, including on his fundraising page, that competing in Kona was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and had long been his dream since beating cancer in 2015 after being diagnosed. a rare form of Hodgkin’s lymphoma the previous year.

Kozera underwent 16 cycles of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.

As a member of the team-in-training, he was expected to compete in Kona on behalf of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to support other blood cancer patients.

His “Crush Cancer in Kona” fundraising page on the company’s website says his team raised about $85,000 toward a goal of $100,000.

Kozera wrote that his journey began in April 2014 while training for a local triathlon:

“A hernia landed me in my local hospital, where I learned my life was about to change forever. My surgeon detected a suspicious lymph node which was eventually diagnosed as a rare cancer, called Lymphocyte Depleted Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. To say we were shocked would be an understatement. At 36, I was diagnosed with stage IV cancer which had spread to my groin, pelvis, right hip, abdomen, chest and spine.

He and his wife, Kristin, had recently welcomed their third daughter, Avery, who was diagnosed with a rare genetic mutation that causes epilepsy and will lead to lifelong special needs, according to his post.

Kozera’s father, a physician, referred him to his colleague, Dr. Richard Fisher, president and CEO of Fox Chase Cancer Center, whose clinical expertise is lymphoma.

After enduring 16 rounds of chemotherapy and the bone marrow transplant in May 2015, Kozera set her sights on competing in an Ironman. He brought a stationary bike to the hospital and started training in his room.

Six months after the transplant, he took his first step by finishing the Philadelphia Marathon.

In April 2016, he traveled to New Orleans and completed a grueling half Ironman. In June of that year, just 418 days after his transplant, he traveled to Austria to compete in the 140.6-mile Ironman.

Patroller Brian Kozera puts a police badge sticker on the cast of a youth with officers at ‘Water Ice With a Cop’ at Cherry Street Park in Norristown on August 30, 2016. (File photo by MediaNews Group)

He eventually resumed his full-time job as a police officer.

He went on to complete five more full Ironman competitions, including one on July 25, 2021 in Lake Placid, NY, which turned out to be his personal best.

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