Brian Ellis, a deputy with the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office, parked his vehicle on the side of U.S. 460 just outside Bedford town limits Saturday and turned on his emergency lights to investigate a single-vehicle crash. As he was walking toward the car, Ellis’ vehicle was struck by a passing motorist at a high rate of speed.
The impact of the collision pushed Ellis’ vehicle an estimated 75 yards, according to Bedford County Sheriff Mike Miller, and resulted in about $40,000 worth of damages to both the police vehicle, its contents and the other driver’s vehicle. The woman who hit the police vehicle was charged with reckless driving, and treated for minor injuries at a hospital before being released, according to the sheriff office’s report.
“I was happy to not be inside of the vehicle at that time. The Lord was watching over me,” Ellis said of the crash.
The Bedford County Sheriff’s Office during a Tuesday news conference urged motorists to remember and comply with “Move Over — It’s the Law” to do their part in keeping law enforcement officers, first responders and other motorists as safe as possible on the roads.
“We pushed hard as law enforcement, as fire and rescue, and even as tow companies to get this law, called ‘Move Over Law,’ adopted,” Miller said after showing Ellis’ body camera footage of the incident at the conference. “It’s not a new law, but we still see where people will not move over when they see the blue lights, the red lights or the amber lights.”
Miller said although police officers have been killed or severely injured in crashes like this nationwide, no officers, first responders or tow truck drivers in Bedford County have yet died or been seriously injured in situations where motorists failed to move over or be mindful. He said he hopes things remain that way.
“Vehicles, equipment can be replaced, but we need to make sure that everybody walks away, and they did on this one,” Miller said.
Ellis appealed to drivers to move over when possible for emergency vehicles parked on the roads, and if moving over is not an option, he asked them to at least slow their speed.
“Slow down. Pay attention. Move over. It’s courtesy to everyone else,” Ellis said.