A special constable who lost part of his leg when he was hit by a car says he is abused “almost daily” by people who do not think he is disabled.
Ben Perry, 26, learned to walk again with a prosthetic after the crash, which happened while helping a driver on the hard shoulder of the M42.
He shared an image with thousands on Twitter that showed how his disability can be hidden by what he wears.
He said: “My aim is for people to see that disabilities can affect anyone.”
Mr Perry had been returning home from a work event in March 2018 when he came across a car that had aquaplaned and hit the central reservation.
He put a flashing light on top of his car and went to help but as he returned to his vehicle to get a torch he was struck.
“I can remember seeing my car smashed up the embankment with the magnetic beacon hanging off but still flashing,” Mr Perry, from Bromsgrove, said.
“I then tried to get up but I couldn’t and I didn’t know why.
“I then looked down and saw that my leg was completely missing below the knee – the impact had amputated it there and then.”
Several people came to his aid, one using his belt as an improvised tourniquet until paramedics arrived.
“I started to feel less with it and I was thinking of my family. I genuinely thought that I was going to die and I’d mentally prepared myself to die,” he said.
“I struggle to put into words how grateful I am to the people that helped me that night.”
Following the accident, Mr Perry spent 23 weeks in hospital and admits feeling suicidal.
“I thought that I wouldn’t be able to walk, work or drive again, all things that I loved doing.”
He eventually regained his ability to walk, with help from his physiotherapist.
The driver, Khadeja Perwez, then 25 and of Avon Close, Worcester, admitted charges of driving without due care and attention and driving with defective tyres on 13 March 2019 and was fined £1,000 and disqualified from driving for nine months.
Mr Perry said he still had flashbacks and nightmares of the crash, and felt “triggers” when he was doing things that reminded him of the accident, like driving in the rain.
But, he said, Twitter had enabled him to “offload” how he was feeling.
He regularly shares posts and photos about his experiences and his recovery, amassing more than 10,000 followers.
“I have received several messages from people, particularly amputees, saying that I have given them hope and inspiration to keep going,” he said.
“Knowing that I can use my experiences and turn negatives into positives means so much to me.”
Despite this, he said he was often confronted when using accessible toilets or disabled parking, saying challenges were an “almost daily occurrence”.
“This is more often than not when I am wearing trousers and people can’t see that I’m an amputee,” he said.
“My aim is for people to see that disabilities can affect anyone regardless of their age.”
Mr Perry now works as traffic signal installation technician for Telent, travelling the country installing traffic signals, but still hopes to return to being a special constable for West Mercia Police, which he describes as a “lifelong dream”.
His current prosthetic means he is unable to pass fitness tests and hopes to get a new leg which will make it possible.
“I’m still a warranted officer and I’m hoping to go through my training again in the new year in order to become front-line again,” he said.
West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said: “I was lucky to be able to meet Ben in hospital following the horrific incident that led to the loss of his leg.
“His commitment to public service, despite the events that would have defeated many people, is awe-inspiring.”