DASH CAM VIDEO: Troopers nearly hit by vehicle on I-80 - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

DASH CAM VIDEO: Troopers nearly hit by vehicle on I-80

Posted: Updated:
JOHNSON COUNTY (KWWL) - The Johnson County Sheriff's Office has now released a dash cam video from a driver barreling into a crash scene after being rear-ended by a semi, nearly injuring officers investigating a recent Interstate 80 crash.

The video shows Johnson County deputies talking with Iowa State Patrol Trooper Jesse Hernandez (shown sitting in an unmarked patrol car) while traffic is seen moving into the left lane and slowing down as Iowa law requires.

Out of nowhere, a vehicle careens on-screen, clipping the back of Hernandez's vehicle and narrowly missing Johnson County Sheriff's Deputy Hammes and Reserve Deputy Pearson, who was standing at Hernandez's passenger door.

Immediately afterwards, the deputies ask if Hernandez is OK and move to check on the status of the vehicle that crashed into them.

"This is just a glaring example of how close we came to losing Trooper (Jesse) Hernandez, Deputy Hammes, along with Reserve Deputy Pearson ... all because a driver of a semi chose not to slow down when approaching a crash scene full of vehicles and emergency lights," said Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek.

Hernandez was taken to the hospital and released.

The semi driver who allegedly caused the vehicle's crash, Michael John Smith, 49, of Arlington, was cited with failure to maintain control.

Deputies say Smith was distracted by the crash Friday morning and failed to slow as it approached the vehicle of Dana Scott Miller, 45, of Eldridge. Smith's semi rear-ended Miller's truck, pushing it into the crash scene.

Pulkrabek released the dash cam video Tuesday morning.



On Friday morning, Trooper Jesse Hernandez's patrol car was hit while he was responding to an accident on Interstate 80.

It's one of several crashes involving an emergency vehicle in recent months. Now the Iowa State Patrol is asking drivers to pay more attention to the road.

The series of crashes on Interstate 80 in Johnson County all started with one crash. The Iowa State Patrol responded.

But then another crash happened, and this time someone hit a state trooper.

"In these types of situations what I need people to do, more than ever, is just to pay attention to the road and pay attention straight ahead," said Bob Conrad, Iowa State Patrol.

Troopers say cars passing the accident were slowing down and moving over, just like the law requires them to do. But one semi didn't slow down enough, hit the car in front, and that car hit the trooper.

"They would not get a ticket for the move over, slow down law," said Conrad. "They do get a ticket for failure to maintain control in these types of situations."

The law also requires drivers to move over or slow down for maintenance vehicles like tow trucks. Drivers with Holiday Wrecker and Crane haven't been involved in an accident for several years, luckily.

"There have been numerous close calls where they've had to run to avoid a sliding vehicle," said Tom Toner, Dispatcher. "It's a dangerous occupation."

In fact, crashes killed two Iowa tow truck drivers in 2011.

While State Trooper Jesse Hernandez's car is smashed up, he will be OK, though the trooper did go to the hospital to be checked out.

Now troopers want to make sure drivers focus on driving and not get distracted to prevent worse injuries in the future.

The other drivers involved in Friday morning's crashes were not injured.

Amie Steffeneicher contributed to this report.
Powered by Frankly