Just before sunrise June 19, 2014, an unidentified driver hit and badly injured a West Virginia state trooper who had gotten out of his cruiser to clear debris from the center of I-77 north of Princeton, WV. The trooper had switched on his rooftop light bar and flashers in order to alert other early morning drivers to his presence. Despite those precautions, evidence indicates that he was struck by the passenger-side door mirror of a passing vehicle whose driver did not stop to offer assistance.
As shocking as it may seem that a person could collide with a state trooper after spotting the warning lights, accidents that injure and kill police officers and all kinds of emergency responders occur with shocking frequency. The problem became so bad at one point that states began enacting so-called “move-over” laws during the 1990s. Now, drivers all across the United States have legal obligations to change lanes or significantly reduce their speed when approaching and passing emergency personnel who are stopped and standing on the road. Events taking place during this June’s National Move Over Awareness Month are intended to get these lessons across.
The trooper injured on the interstate near Princeton is expected to recover, but he required several days of hospital treatment. Too often, victims of accidents caused by drivers who do not move over to give emergency responders enough time and space lose their lives. Compounding the negligence inherent in inflicting that kind of harm on another human being who had been in the act of aiding people in need by fleeing the scene of the accident is inexcusable.
My personal injury attorney colleagues and I offer our wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured trooper, and we express our hope that the at-fault driver is found soon and held to account. We also want everyone sharing the road with emergency responders to do so safely and responsibly.