Emergency Lights Don’t Always Prevent Accidents

police lights

Tollway worker Vincent Petrella loved his job, according to his sister. Even when the weather was less than favorable, he was a hard worker that enjoyed showing up to work, she told the Chicago Tribune.

Earlier this year, Petrella had pulled over on Interstate 88 in Aurora during frigid temperatures to aid a broken down tractor-trailer. Unfortunately, in a fatal domino effect, another semi crashed into a state trooper’s car, which crashed into Petrella’s truck and caused an explosion. 

Lending a Helping Hand Turns Fatal

A disabled semi was pulled over in the right lane of traffic around 9:45 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 20, with a state trooper’s car and a tollway truck behind it. Officials said that an arrow on the back of the truck was illuminated to guide traffic away from the semi, and the police car’s lights were flashing.

The trooper and Petrella were helping the semi driver when another semi hit all three parked vehicles, causing them all to burst into flames. The trooper was rushed to a hospital, and Vincent Petrella died at the scene.

The ‘Move Over’ Law

Renato V. Velasquez, 46, was charged with operating a commercial vehicle while impaired/fatigued in connection with the accident. Velasquez filed a false report of record and duty status. He also drove more than 14 hours and drove beyond the 11-hour rule. All of which are class four felonies. Velasquez was also in violation of Scott’s Law.

Scott’s Law, or the “Move Over” Law, requires that when approaching any police or other emergency vehicle stopped along the roadway, a driver must:

  • Change lanes if possible
  • Reduce speed
  • Proceed with caution

Illinois State Police Director Hiram Grau reminded motorists to keep clear of emergency vehicles by saying:

“Scott’s Law was passed for a reason. You see those emergency lights, you get away as far as you can.”

The law was named in memory of a Chicago Fire Department lieutenant killed by a drunk driver while working the scene of a crash.

A Hardworking Life Cut Short

Vincent Petrella was an equipment operator for the Illinois Tollway since 2005, beginning his career as a toll collector. Tollway executive director Kristi Lafleur issued a reminder of the dangerous conditions tollway workers endure by saying, “They plow snow, maintain our roadways and, most importantly, are the first on the scene to help drivers in need. It was during what should have been a routine job that things went horribly wrong.”

If you were in involved in a commercial vehicle accident or you have lost a loved one to such an accident, please contact the Truck Accident Attorneys today. We are here to help victims explore their legal options and receive the compensation they deserve. The consultation is free, and there is no obligation.

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