A reminder to slow down, move over: “It’s not worth what could happen”
TAYLORSVILLE, Utah — First responders who survived close calls with drivers are begging Utahns to slow down and move over for emergency vehicles, in observance of National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week.
“It’s not worth what could happen”
Utah Highway Patrol Sergeant Cade Brenchley’s dash camera documented his close call in March 2018, as he responded to a crash in Sardine Canyon.
“I stepped out of my car and that’s the last thing I remember,” he said.
But the dashcam kept rolling as he went flying through the air when another car struck him.
“A lot of people are in such a hurry to get places, and you really don’t make up hardly any time if you have to slow down for a mile or less. It’s not worth what could happen,” he said.
According to UHP, Utah averages just over seven crashes an hour. For every one of those crashes that requires some kind of emergency response, someone like Brenchley puts themselves at the scene, in danger of being hit.
“This will affect me for the rest of my life”
Bart Vawdrey, a battalion chief with the Draper Fire Department, survived a similar situation. He responded to a crash on I-15 near 14600 S. in December 2018 when another car came speeding his way at 50 miles an hour.
“It threw me about 30 feet,” Vawdrey recalled. “I landed in the HOV lane. My initial thought was to get up and run, but I couldn’t get up. So I crawled over to get behind some vehicles and radioed for help.”
Vawdrey’s chief called his survival a miracle, noting that Vawdrey saw the car speeding toward him and made a split-second decision to jump out of the way. The car still struck him, but that movement kept it from being worse.
Still, Vawdrey says he still deals with that injury.
“This will affect me for the rest of my life,” Vawdrey said.
Brenchley said his recovery took months. The crash broke four ribs and his right shoulder blade and tore the LCL in his left knee.
Utah law: slow down and move over
And it’s not just police and fire departments whose employees are in harm’s way. At any given time, those in danger on the roadside can include incident management staff, tow truck drivers and even construction or utility workers.
UHP officials say traffic incidents are the number one cause of death for emergency medical crews, and a leading cause of death for firefighters and police officers.
Under Utah law, drivers must give emergency responders more room by moving over a lane and slowing down.
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