MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – They’re supposed to be the ones you call when you need help on the roads. But since the beginning of this year, more than a dozen state troopers have become victims.
On Jan. 30, a truck plowed right into a trooper who was helping another accident on the side of the road. Trooper Hollencamp was inside and said of the driver who hit him.
“He was in the very far over left lane, lost control, came over,” Hollencamp said.
Lt. Eric Roeske with State Patrol said it’s become a bit of a common thing over the past month.
“I think that what the public needs to realize is we’re really at the mercy of passing motorists when we’re on the side of the road,” Roeske said.
Roeske said this year for state troopers things have been bad.
“Since Jan. 1, we’ve had 13 state patrol squads struck, which is a significant increase from what we would normally see,” Roeske said.
He said most crashes have been because drivers were speeding or following too close, which is a problem this year’s winter has accentuated.
“Believe it or not, when we have the ‘minor snowfalls,’ two to five inches, that’s a much worse situation for us because it’s not enough to slow anybody down but it is enough to make the roads quite slippery,” Roeske said.
Another way to quantify this problem for officers and troopers this year is to look around at Hamline Body Shop. It’s one of the busier car repair businesses in the metro with several cars being worked on all at once. Roeske said it trickles down.
“Vehicles off the road, troopers missing work, a lot of resources getting tied up that could otherwise be devoted to making our roads safer,” he said.
Hollencamp says he was lucky enough to avoid injury, but he knows it could happen again, but he’s just hoping winter turns to spring so he and his peers can get re-focused on giving assistance, not receiving it. Roeske said they’re hoping for two things: That the snowfalls will be fewer and that when it does snow, even a small amount, people take it seriously.