A recent Facebook post from the  Montana Highway Patrol highlights the importance of drivers slowing down and moving over when emergency vehicles are deployed at an accident scene or during a traffic stop.

MHP Captain Jim Kitchin said there have been two recent incidents in which MHP Troopers have been injured.

“We had two incidents,” said Captain Kitchin. “One was over near Bozeman where Trooper Gagnon was struck by a vehicle as we saw on Facebook. She was on a crash just taking care of business like we normally do, and that vehicle sideswiped her car, struck the violator’s car, and went up on its side on the tow truck.”

Kitchen related the second incident that occurred here in western Montana.

“Just last week, Trooper Rehbein was struck at mile marker 14 on Interstate 90 while he was attending to another crash,” he said. “We’ve been seeing it for years. We’ve had troopers hit in the summer, and in the winter which can be worse, because even when people do move over they hit the brakes and they can’t steer and they end up sliding and crashing into vehicles, and we’re seeing this more and more.”

Kitchin said he’s seeing more crashes because drivers are simply going to fast for conditions.

“Well, you need to slow down,” he said. “If the speed limit is 50 miles per hour or greater then you must slow down to no more than 20 miles per hour by state statute. It doesn’t just happen to MHP Troopers. It happens to sheriff’s deputies, to city police officers, to tow truck operators, fire crews, and EMT’s. We’ve been on numerous crashes where fire trucks and tow trucks were run into because people simply aren’t paying attention.”

Kitchin said so far there have been no fatalities, but there have been minor injuries because troopers are properly buckled in, however, because many are back injuries, they can continue to cause problems for Troopers for the rest of their careers.

This also brings to mind the terrifying Montana Highway Patrol video that featured Troopers Wade Palmer and T.J. Templeton from 2015 on an icy I-90 near Frenchtown in which a woman was critically injured while trucks and other vehicles did not slow down and several crashes occurred. Palmer and Templeton both received  Awards of Merit from Attorney General Tim Fox for their bravery in responding to that incident.

When winter weather driving conditions return, Captain Kitchin urges driver to slow down and move over when encountering emergency vehicles.