On January 27, 2014, an Illinois Tollway worker was killed and an Illinois State Trooper was seriously injured when they were struck by a truck on I-88 while assisting a disabled motorist. When the word “hero” comes to mind, many of us think of someone who bravely rushes into a burning fire or confronts armed gunmen in a bank robbery. This tragedy shines a spotlight on heroes that we see all the time but take for granted, namely, those who help stranded motorists. Picture courtesy of NVP News
These brave individuals work in brutal weather conditions. Indeed, it is often treacherous conditions caused by bad weather that contribute to motorists sliding off the road or getting into wrecks. Not only do these heroes endure bitter cold, rain, snow and ice, but they knowingly place themselves in an exposed and vulnerable position as oncoming motorists speed by them. In short, they risk their lives every time they stop on the side of the road to help someone who is in trouble. The Illinois Vehicle Code requires motorists to proceed with caution, reduce speed, and if traffic conditions permit, to change lanes to move away from the safety vehicle. Strictly adhering to this law would lessen the risk to tollway and law enforcement personnel who are assisting disabled motorists. It has not been determined whether violation of this law played a part in causing the trucking accident. Many of us take these heroes for granted until we get a flat tire or slide into a ditch. When we are alone and desperate, it is these dedicated professionals who come to our rescues. An Illinois Tollway worker gave his life in the service of others. A state trooper remains critically injured. Let us remember the sacrifices these brave men made and keep them in mind the next time we pass by a disabled vehicle or drive through a work zone. Show you respect for them and their families by driving extra carefully.