Officials urge drivers to move over for first responders - WSMV Channel 4

Officials urge drivers to move over for first responders

The three workers were hit on New Shackle Island Road on Saturday night. (WSMV) The three workers were hit on New Shackle Island Road on Saturday night. (WSMV)
HENDERSONVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Three first responders are recovering after being hit by a car while responding to a crash on the side of the highway.

The wreck happened around 8:15 p.m. Saturday at the intersection of New Shackle Island and Drakes Creek roads in Hendersonville.

The issue of drivers not moving over when first responders are helping drivers on the side of the road is an ongoing problem throughout Tennessee.

Last year, three Tennessee Department of Transportation workers were killed helping others, and now, some law enforcement agencies say it's time to do more before someone else gets hurt or even killed.

The orange marks on the road in Sumner County show where the first responders were hit.

"The vehicle actually that was in traffic pulled out of traffic and sideswiped another car and ultimately ended up striking an ambulance in its course and three responders were injured,” said Sgt. Travis Plotzer with the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Plotzer said 52-year-old Calvin Emmanuel II was driving north when traffic was stopped due to an accident. According to authorities, Emmanuel backed up and hit a car before using a southbound lane to drive around traffic. It wasn't until Emmanuel hit an ambulance, tossing an EMT out of it, that authorities say he finally stopped.

"Whenever they see these flashing lights, try and slow down. Slow down for these folks out here working. Be mindful there's probably someone outside their vehicle and that person has a family they want to go home to,” Plotzer said.

Michael Moore, a 28-year-old Sumner County firefighter, was hurt. Michelle Scott, a 30-year-old Sumner County deputy, was also hurt, along with 47-year-old EMT Ricky Slack. All three are expected to be OK.

Authorities said Emmanuel was driving on a suspended license.

Last week, a worker with Superior Traffic Control was hit and killed while he was on the side of the road on Interstate 24 in Rutherford County.

"Obviously we've lost another highway worker, and local agencies lost officers and stuff, but the highway patrol hasn't lost anyone so far in 2017,” Plotzer said.

But Plotzer says if drivers don't start paying more attention - especially at night - and obey the move over law, he's afraid more first responders just trying to do their jobs will get hurt.

"Everybody has the same goal in helping people. We all have different roles, but we all have that same goal of helping people and that's what makes it really tough when they're out here trying to help someone and they get injured in the process,” Plotzer said.

Emergency officials said they have seen distracted drivers pass crash scenes and are afraid it could lead to more crashes.

“We all wear vests. We’re all visible and we wear turnout gear. We do everything to protect ourselves and we try to position our fire equipment to protect the scene so nobody else gets hurt,” said Shackle Island Fire and Rescue Chief Martin Bowers.

Tow truck operators also want drivers to be aware of their amber colored lights. 

Several tow truck drivers told Channel 4  they have had close calls because drivers ignore their lights and don't move over.

"I have come to experience almost getting hit twice once on Briley Parkway and the other on I-40," said Joshua Williams, a driver for Hillwood Towing.

"I had a very close friend of mine in upstate New York when I was running heavy rotator that had both his legs amputated when he was stuck between two vehicles," said Jason Tynchyn, also a driver at Hillwood Towing.

THP is still investigating the incident in Hendersonville. Officials want to remind drivers to move over if they see someone on the side of the road. Not doing so could cost drivers up to $500 in fines and even 30 days in jail, if caught.

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