NEW MADISON — First responders and deputies avoided a dangerous near-hit experience Saturday afternoon on the outskirts of New Madison after a driver failed to notice a long line of traffic, which was stopped for emergency crews and narrowly avoided a collision with numerous emergency vehicles.
At approximately 12:20 p.m., emergency personnel from New Madison Fire Department and Tri-Village Rescue, as well deputies from the Darke County Sheriff’s Department were dispatched to the 800 block of State Route 121 near New Garden Road in regard to a single-vehicle accident with injuries.
According to the Darke County Sheriff’s Department, a preliminary investigation into the accident has revealed that a green 1993 Chevrolet Silverado, driven by 27-year-old Hillarie Frech of New Paris was northbound on State Route 121 when the she lost control of the vehicle traveling off the left side of the roadway. The vehicle hit a guardrail before coming to rest on a steep incline along the tree line. Frech was treated on the scene by Tri-Village Rescue for her injuries before being transported to Reid Hospital in Richmond, Ind., where her condition remains unknown.
While deputies were conducting their accident investigation and emergency crews worked to clear the accident scene, a secondary accident took place that could have proven to be very dangerous to the those on the scene.
At approximately 12:58 p.m., a grey Honda Accord traveling southbound on State Route 121, driven by 26-year-old Jason Hunt, also of New Paris sped past traffic stopped to wait on emergency vehicles closing the roadway. Hunt narrowly avoided colliding with two sheriff’s cruisers and a fire engine blocking the accident scene.
Hunt traveled off the left side of the road and made contact with the fence before going airborne and coming to rest in a deep ditch along the tree line. A second ambulance from Northwest Fire and EMS District in New Paris had to be requested as mutual aid to the scene to assist the driver, who sustained minor injuries. Hunt refused any further treatment or transport to a medical facility and was released at the scene.
“This is exactly how first responders and law enforcement are injured or killed on these kinds of scenes,” said Captain Duane Cook of the New Madison Fire Department. “You just witnessed it firsthand. It’s no game out here. People need to slow down and stop when they see the lights.”
Captain Cook was referring to Ohio Revised Code 4511.213 otherwise known as the “Move Over Law.” The law, simply stated, requires drivers to:
(A) The driver of a motor vehicle, upon approaching a stationary public safety vehicle, emergency vehicle, road service vehicle, waste collection vehicle in accordance with sections 4923.04 and 4923.06 of the Revised Code, or a highway maintenance vehicle that is displaying the appropriate visual signals by means of flashing, oscillating, or rotating lights, as prescribed in section 4513.17 of the Revised Code, shall do either of the following:
(1) If the driver of the motor vehicle is traveling on a highway that consists of at least two lanes that carry traffic in the same direction of travel as that of the driver’s motor vehicle, the driver shall proceed with due caution and, if possible and with due regard to the road, weather, and traffic conditions, shall change lanes into a lane that is not adjacent to that of the stationary public safety vehicle, emergency vehicle or road service vehicle.
(2) If the driver is not traveling on a highway of a type described in division (A)(1) of this section, or if the driver is travelling on a highway of that type but it is not possible to change lanes or if to do so would be unsafe, the driver shall proceed with due caution, reduce the speed of the motor vehicle, and maintain a safe speed for the road, weather, and traffic conditions.
According to the Emergency Responder Safety Institute, a national advisory group of public safety and transportation experts, an estimated six to eight fire and EMS workers, as well as ten to twelve law enforcement officers, are killed each year on the roadways by those who do not follow the “Move Over Laws” and drive responsibly.
“When you see lights or a road closed by law enforcement or fire and EMS, please slow down or stop for them. Don’t try to drive around them,” added New Madison Fire Chief Robert Cook.