As the weather worsens in Missoula, more accidents are likely to occur. Sadly, some of these accidents can impact good Samaritans and emergency responders doing their jobs stopping for other accidents.
Two people were recently taken to the hospital after a crash on December 28, which involved a Missoula County Sheriffs Office Sergeant Gordon Schmill. While Schmill was stationary on the shoulder of the Interstate 90 westbound with his emergency lights activated, he was rear-ended by a car.
Sgt. Schmill had stopped to assist in an unrelated accident and was preparing to leave his vehicle to put out flares, according to the county. He looked up and saw a vehicle spinning out of control toward him. Both the sergeant and the motorist were hospitalized with non-threatening injuries.
Montana law requires drivers to move over
The accident is being investigated by the Montana Highway Patrol, which will likely look at whether or not both vehicles were in compliance with Montana law.
Operators of emergency vehicles are required to make use of audible and/or visual signals. All other vehicles are required to reduce their speed and, if possible, more to a lane that is not adjacent with the lane in which the authorized vehicle is stationary.
If this is not possible, motorists should reduce the vehicle’s speed and maintain that speed through the area while proceeding with caution. On highways with a speed limit of 50 miles per hour or greater, the reduced speed motorists take should be at least 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit.
Slow conditions in the winter are important for many safety reasons, especially if a quick decision needs to be made when approaching an emergency vehicle. Otherwise, the risk for a car accident increases.