Waseca County Sheriff’s Deputy is back on duty after critical injury last fall

A Waseca County Sheriff’s Deputy has returned to work nine months after a downed power line sent 14-thousand volts of electricity through his body.

The sheriff’s office announced on July 7 that Deputy Josh Langr had started on light duty.

“Everybody came by to say hi, it was great,” Langr told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS. “Everybody said, ‘we missed you, glad you’re back.’”

It’s a moment he was looking forward to during months marked by surgeries and doctor’s appointments.

“It’s the start of going back and have everything be like it was,” he said.

On October 23 at 10:03 p.m., his life changed when he responded to a crash. A truck collided with a power pole, throwing a teenager from the vehicle. He tried to save her life.

“I was working the scene, the helicopter had landed, I had my phone […] I was talking to the trooper, in fact, I had this flashlight in my hand,” said Langr, showing us the flashlight at his desk. “I started walking to get the license plate and woke up in the hospital.”

Waseca County Sheriff’s Deputy injured in electric shock incident back on duty

He’d come in contact with a high voltage power line, which caused fourth-degree burns to his head going as deep as his skull. It also tore through his feet and calf.

“You’re always trying to make the job as safe as you can but it’s always a dangerous job and I’m just fortunate enough it didn’t stop my heart when I hit the line,” said Langr.

He was in the hospital for 20 days.

“We wear thick rubber boots at work so the current went out the sides [of my feet] so I was able to walk a lot sooner than I maybe would’ve if I had been wearing tennis shoes, or something, and it went straight through,” said Langr.

KSTP Reporter Jessica Miles spoke with Langr in the hospital in Nov. 2019, where he was already walking.

Langr told us a donor graft was used to cover the wounds to his feet and leg.

The injury to his head has taken more time to heal. Doctors initially tried to use a vacuum assisted closure device.

“The hope was it would heal on its own with that closure thing and it worked well for a couple of months and then it stagnated,” he said.

In March, they had to try a new approach. Two days before a consultation for a surgery that would use a skin graft from his arm to cover the wound, the pandemic shut everything down.

Waseca County deputy shares story of electric shock, doctors call his survival a ‘miracle’

“I didn’t have a date, they didn’t have any idea when they were going to reopen,” he said. “You know they say elective surgeries but when you’re walking around with a hole in your head, it doesn’t feel very elective.”

Finally, on June 1st, he went back to HCMC for a successful surgery. He said his team at the hospital called him as soon as elective surgeries resumed, knowing how long he waited.

“Dr. Jon Gayken and Dr. Jonathan Witzke were amazing,” said Langr. “The nurses over there have been amazing as well […] they’re the best nurses around, I can’t give them enough praise.”

He still has physical therapy and exercises to help regain full use of his arm.

“I’m restricted in lifting and pushing and pulling with that arm,” he said.

He is staying positive and hoping that he can move from light-duty back out to patrol in a couple of weeks.

“I don’t want to use the radio yet,” he said. “I kind of want my first transmission to be 10-8, you know, give me some calls.”

When he reflects on what happened, he said, “I wish it were brighter out so I could’ve seen the wire that I walked under. But just a little bit of pain, a lot bit of support, just trying to power through it, just want to go back to work.”