(COLORADO SPRINGS) — The Colorado State Patrol (CSP) hosted a press conference on Friday afternoon after several crashes occurred this past week involving CDOT workers and State Troopers.
CSP described one of the crashes on January 18, where a single vehicle hit a trooper’s car.
“We set up substantial pre-warning devices for about a quarter mile prior to that crash while the tow carrier was removing that vehicle,” said CSP Commander, District 1 (Metro Denver), Major Darce Weil. “At the time, we had an entire lane, the toll road lane shut down of C470 and a vehicle in the same direction of the crash was attempting to pass. Other vehicles lost control, entered the closed down area where we were conducting that post-crash care and struck our trooper’s vehicle.”
It was the vehicle of Trooper Cameron Gill that was hit, and he described the moments before the crash occurred.
“I stepped out of my car briefly to go talk to another trooper that was on scene, another sergeant that was on scene, just to let him know, kind of what was going on and why we had the number one lane blocked,” Gill said. “And it could have been 45 seconds to a minute later, I hear skid marks and then the rear of my vehicle was collided by another vehicle that was attempting to pass. So, the first thought that came to mind is I want to make sure that they’re okay. I was outside the vehicle.”
Gill notified dispatch and went to check on the driver.
“I asked if he was okay. He was a little shaken up. His airbags were deployed, but he just had some bumps and bruises,” Gill said. “But the next course of action was to get him out of the vehicle and into a safer spot because his vehicle when it collided and came to final rest more blocking the number one lane and slightly blocking number two lane.”
On January 25, another accident occurred involving a driver hitting an emergency vehicle.
“Unfortunately, a driver disregarded all the warning signs, entered into the closed area of our crash scene, attempted to avoid at the last minute the vehicles in front of them hit the center median divider and then violently struck the CDOT safety patrol truck that had a driver inside of it,” Weil said.
Both CDOT and CSP shared the dangers of distracted driving and the concerns their employees have.
“When you’re in a car, you forget outside of the bubble, for those that are outside of the vehicle are working, it is nerve-wracking to stand on the side of an interstate when somebody’s going 90 miles per hour and they’re three inches from you or foot from you,” CDOT Deputy Director of Operations, Bob Fifer, said.
CSP said in 2022 over 700 people died on Colorado roadways and they do not want this trend to continue.
“When we are out conducting post-crash care, we are out there for the members of the public,” Weil said. “Somebody has crashed their vehicle and it is all of us that come out there to assist. We can’t do that alone. We have to have the help of the motoring public to ensure the safety of all of us.”
CDOT expressed the dangers of looking down from the road for even a second.
“We do everything we can to make it a safe environment as possible for our employees, and we still have distracted driving,” Fifer said. “And it just takes a quick second of touching the radio or picking up that phone or being impaired through drugs or alcohol to just that 100th of a second decision can kill somebody.”
After the incident last week, Gill voiced the impact it had on him.
“And it opens up the whole new perspective of keeping your head on a swivel,” Gill said. “I was trained at the academy to always keep your head on a swivel, 360 awareness, and this just further proves that point to always look behind you. Always try to be aware of the potential dangers that aren’t only inside of vehicle or make contact, but outside the vehicle such as cars.”