OK Troopers Hit at Fatal Crash Prompts Plea for Alert Driving - KOAM TV 7

OK Troopers Hit at Fatal Crash Prompts Plea for Alert Driving

Newton County, Missouri -

Oklahoma state troopers were injured Monday night while responding to a fatal crash on Interstate 44.
          The initial crash on the Will Rogers turnpike,  involved a car, an s-u-v and a semi. 31-year old Veronica Blake of Nevada was ejected from the passenger seat of the car and died at the scene.
     The drivers of both the car and s-u-v were taken to the hospital.
     While troopers were on scene, another motorist ran into a patrol car.
     Both troopers were taken to the hospital, treated and released.
     It serves as a reminder for folks to be aware of emergency, construction crews and law enforcement on the road.

 "Our safety is solely up to the people driving these cars coming through these crash scenes," said Oklahoma highway patrol public information officer Dwight Durant. The cars of two Oklahoma troopers are now damaged after being rear-ended, one into the other, by another driver as they worked the fatal crash.
Durant pleaded, "We need people  to pay attention, slow down and give us a break."
Just like highway crews doing bridge work near Joplin Tuesday, troopers are often on the roadside and it is becoming more common that they get hit. Durant explained, "We had Trooper Nicholas Dees run over and killed working a traffic accident a little over two years ago. Since then we've had thirty-one troopers who've been hit."

Whether the highway patrol or department of transportation,  interstates can become a deadly place for work. In 2016, seven Missouri Department of Transportation employees were killed in state system work zones, an eighth in a local work zone.  Inattention was the number one cause."
An upcoming MoDot campaign will push that 
Work zones are no phone zones.
Sgt. John Lueckenhoff, public information officer for Troop D of the Missouri Highway Patrol said,  "No one wants to get into a car with someone who's blindfolded  yet they'll look down at that text or look down at something in the car."
Sgt. Lueckenhoff has worked the roads more than twenty years experiencing his own crash when a driver turned in front of him despite lights and sirens blaring. He said Missourians need to heed the Move Over Law. Switching lanes when you see highway crews, emergency vehicles even tow trucks. If there's no lane available the law requires you to slow down.


Its also the law in Kansas and Oklahoma.  Durant said, "We just ask people look beyond their hood. Look beyond the horizon. Look at the next valley up ahead of you.  If you see emergency lights, remember this one thing, something's going on."
Troopers say they can fight a suspect armed with a gun. But a vehicle is a multi-thousand pound weapon. Sgt. Lueckenhoff considers that even more dangerous.
Sgt. Lueckenhoff said, "The fact that a person
s life is altered. The fact that there's a troopers family, who dads not coming home anymore because you didn't pay attention and you ran over him standing on the side of the road. That's the senseless part."

   Fines can be higher for hitting a highway worker in Missouri.
     Drivers can also be charged with manslaughter and negligent homicide among other traffic violations.  But troopers say the bigger crime is lives lost.

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