EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — An East Peoria police officer was hit by a driver Wednesday night while sitting in a squad car, assisting with another crash. The Illinois State Police confirmed the driver was intoxicated.
East Peoria Chief of Police, Rich Brodrick, said it has been a stressful day for the police department.
“It’s extremely frustrating, and it’s scary,” he said. “When you look at the dangers that are presented by them just trying to keep the roadways safe, and for people to not pay attention, and not give them the room that Scott’s Law requires, is extremely frustrating.”
The officer was knocked unconscious and was taken to the hospital. Brodrick said they are hoping for a positive outcome after he underwent surgery, but according to a GoFundMe page made for the officer, he was unable to feel his legs after the crash.
“One of the first things to go when you’re drinking is judgment. That’s why people get behind the wheel. They think that they’re okay to drive when they’re not,” Brodrick said. “But, it’s definitely a trying time for the department and for the officer and his family especially.”
Brodrick stressed road safety, considering the upcoming winter storm over New Year’s Eve weekend.
“First off, with there being a storm forecast, people should be pre-planning. If they’re going to go to the store, they need to be doing that before the weather hits,” he said.
He also said cars must increase their following distance in snowfall, giving them more time to react to hazards. He said drivers should keep blankets in their cars in case they do run into trouble on the road. And if a car breaks down, he said, stay in the vehicle until help arrives.
Sgt. Stevie Hughes, a Peoria Police Officer in the traffic division said driving should never be taken lightly.
“Driving is an intricate task,” he said, “and I don’t think that we realize it with all the technology in our vehicles. Don’t be tempted to use those things while you’re driving. Just a second it takes for you to cross over in a lane or for you to be not aware of something that’s happening in front of you. And now you’re in a collision.”
He also said to remember Scott’s Law, or the “Move Over” Law, over the holiday weekend. Wednesday night’s crash can be considered a Scott’s Law crash since the officer had his emergency lights on and the driver did not veer away.
“If you’ve ever been out there on the highway and had a car go by you, it’s a pretty scary thing,” Hughes said. “So, you know, move over a lane, slow your vehicle down. You never know what to expect from that car or that scene on the side of the road. Just be aware, that that’s another human being, another human life.”
Both Hughes and Brodrick said to never drink and drive.
The GoFundMe Page can be found here.