×

“Move Over” signs posted after crash that injured a trooper

Photo by Michele Newbanks Ohio Department of Transportation workers install a sign on Ohio 7 near Briarwood Heights Road Thursday morning to remind drivers to change lanes if they see a stopped vehicle with flashing lights. The sign came about after a crash on Interstate 77 earlier this year that injured a local trooper.

Signs were installed Thursday around Washington County to remind people to move over if they see a stopped vehicle with flashing lights.

The three signs were placed at the request of the Marietta Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol as a result of a crash that injured Sgt. Eric Knowlton in March.

They will be located on Interstate 77, two miles south of the Macksburg/Dexter city exit; on eastbound U.S. 50, near the Athens/Washington County line; and southbound on Ohio 7, between Bender Road and Bramblewood Heights Road.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol reports that from 2013-2017, OSHP cruisers were involved in 58 crashes that appear to be related to the “Move Over” law.

These crashes resulted in the deaths of two people, and injured 34 individuals and 24 officers. In eastern Ohio, which includes Washington, Morgan and Monroe counties, 1,163 citations were written for violations of the “Move Over” law.

All 50 states have this law, which requires drivers to shift over a lane, or slow down if changing lanes isn’t possible, if they are passing a vehicle with flashing lights on the side of the road.

“It’s the law in Ohio, period,” said Sgt. Michael Seabolt of the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Marietta Post.

“It’s like any other traffic control device, if people pay attention to them, they’ll help,” he said of the signs.

Knowlton, 40, of Marietta, was on a traffic stop on March 15 when his cruiser was hit by a tractor-trailer.

“I’m doing better and back to work,” he said Wednesday night. “I’m still dealing with some of the issues, but I went back to work just over a month ago…back to regular duty out on the road. They put me on light duty at the end of May.”

He said his injuries included a fractured right ankle and a fracture on his left leg at his knee.

“I also had minor scrapes and cuts pretty much head to toe,” he explained. “I had stitches in my left arm where metal went through and into it.”

He said he isn’t able to talk much about the crash, due to pending litigation, but said he had initiated a traffic stop on the southbound lane of I-77. He was finishing it up when his cruiser was struck by a 2016 Freightliner tractor-trailer. The Freightliner then struck the 2005 GMC Sierra which Knowlton had stopped, before traveling across the median and into the northbound lanes before hitting trees on the other side.

The driver of the Freightliner, David A. Midcap, 54, of 2318 19th St., Akron, was indicted in July on six counts, including one count of aggravated vehicular assault, a third-degree felony; one count of aggravated vehicular assault, a fourth-degree felony; one count of assault on a peace officer, a fourth-degree felony; one count of aggravated vehicular assault, a third-degree felony; one count of aggravated vehicular assault, a fourth-degree felony; and one count of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, a misdemeanor.

In July, Midcap pleaded not guilty. His three-day jury trial is set for 9 a.m. Feb. 11 in courtroom B of the Washington County Courthouse.

Along with Midcap, the two people who were in the Sierra were transported by emergency squads to Marietta Memorial Hospital for their injuries. The driver of the Sierra was Kaycie M. Hanson, 21, of Wilmington, N.C. and her passenger Matthew J. Henry, 20, of Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Rittenhouse said the placement of the signs was strategic.

“We work with patrol on locations,” she said. “They do a lot of traffic stops on these routes.”

Knowlton said he thought the signs were a good idea.

“Any signs that are put out are definitely a help with the traveling public,” he said. “It makes them more aware to move over when they see those emergency lights on the side of the road.”

Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com.

Statistics:

• From 2013-2017, Ohio State Highway Patrol cruisers were involved in 58 crashes related to the “Move Over” law.

• The crashes resulted in the deaths of two people and injured 34 individuals and 24 officers.

• 1,163 citations were issued in that time frame in Eastern Ohio, which includes Morgan, Monroe and Washington counties, for violations of the “Move Over” law.

Source: Ohio State Highway Patrol.

NEWSLETTER

Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.39/week.

Subscribe Today