8 Minnesota state troopers hit in 3 daysPublished 7:17am Thursday, February 24, 2011
ST. PAUL — After eight troopers were struck by vehicles on state roads in the past three days, the Minnesota State Patrol has a message for drivers: slow down, pay attention and follow the law.
“We’d like to feel like we could do our jobs without the risk of dying or being seriously injured before the end of our shift,” Trooper Andy DeRungs said at a news conference Wednesday. He was hit in his squad car Monday near Highway 36 and Interstate 35W, but wasn’t seriously hurt.
The State Patrol said 31 troopers have been hit since November, either inside their squad cars or standing near the road. None of the injuries were life-threatening. At this time last year, only 13 troopers had been struck by vehicles.
Patrol officials said it would help if drivers would follow the state’s 10-year-old “Ted Foss Move Over” law, which requires them to move to a far lane when there is an emergency vehicle with flashing lights on the side of the road.
Violating that law carries a fine of about $120 depending on the county. The law was passed after Trooper Ted Foss was killed in 2000 when his squad car was struck by another vehicle while he made a traffic stop.
Trooper Dan Lewis said most people don’t understand that if they can’t move over, they still need to slow down. That way, the officer knows they’re at least aware of the squad car.
Lewis was hit Monday afternoon on Highway 52 in Goodhue County, just south of Cannon Falls. He was checking on a car in a ditch when a driver lost control on the ice and hit his squad car from behind. Lewis walked away with a sore back and neck.
“I’ve been hit a bunch of times,” said Lewis, who’s been with the patrol for 24 years. “It does hurt.”
The most recent crash happened Tuesday night when a vehicle struck Trooper Tim Peterson as he sat in his squad car after arresting a drunken driver in New Brighton. Peterson sustained facial injuries.
This week marks the 33rd anniversary of the death of Trooper Roger Williams, a 26-year State Patrol veteran killed by an out-of-control vehicle on Interstate 94 near Alexandria.
State Patrol spokesman Lt. Eric Roeske said he’s had trouble keeping up with all the recent reports of officers getting struck.
“You just kind of shake your head,” he said, adding that drivers must slow down or “one of these times somebody’s going to get killed.”