News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, July 26, 2012
AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. -- Howard F. James is only 27 years old. He's a Trooper First Class with the South Carolina Highway Patrol. Last Friday, Trooper James almost lost his life along I-26 in Orangeburg County.
"He had gotten out of the car to investigate a collision and his vehicle was struck, causing his car to strike him," said Lance Cpl. Judd Jones with the South Carolina Highway Patrol.
Jones says the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office is now investigating the collision but says what happened to James could happen along any roadside.
"Statistically speaking, you know, there are more officers nationwide getting struck by vehicles and different things like that than getting involved in shooting incidents on the side of the highway," he told News 12.
That's why South Carolina has the "Move Over" law. If you break it, it's a misdemeanor that could carry a $300 or $500 fine.
"If you come up to an emergency vehicle on the side of the roadway, the law says that you need to move over to the adjacent lane, if safe to do so. If not, you need to proceed with caution," Jones said.
Graniteville-Vaucluse-Warrenville Fire Department Chief Phil Napier says it's a law that a lot of people break.
"It's sad to say, but normally when I'm on the interstate, I'm usually watching the oncoming traffic more so than I am the actual scene to try to protect our people," Napier said.
So what's his answer?
"On these accidents, dispatch two highway patrolmen or dispatch a highway patrolman and a deputy and let them start writing tickets, and I'm talking about throw the book at them for these people that fail to move over," the chief said.
The National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial says more than 150 law enforcement officers have been struck and killed by vehicles along roadways since 1999.
The South Carolina Highway Patrol reports that James is still in the intensive care unit. His condition is stable, though, and they say he's improving. Lance Cpl. Jones says that just this Tuesday, James was able to walk a little bit again.
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