Startling dash cam video shows Clayton County crash
Written by Becca Habegger, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
CLAYTON COUNTY (KWWL) -
Video from a Clayton County sheriff's deputy's vehicle shows the startling moment when a driver rammed into the back of a squad car during a routine traffic stop earlier this week.
Around 10:15 p.m. Tuesday, Clayton County sheriff's patrol deputy Craig Johnson pulled over the driver of a truck for having one burned-out headlight. While Johnson was sitting in his car, processing that driver's information, another driver rear-ended him. The force of the collision pushed the squad car into the truck ahead.
The sheriff's office says the driver involved in the collision is 84-year-old Mary Svedsen. Chief deputy Ryan Johnson said she had a nighttime driving restriction on her driver's license at the time of the accident.
Ryan Johnson said Svedsen veered off the two-lane US Highway 18, between Monona and Luana, and was traveling on the gravel shoulder at highway speeds when she rammed into the back of Craig Johnson's vehicle.
"It's scary to think that, you know, you have a split second to see it, and all of a sudden it happens, and there's nothing you can really do," Ryan Johnson said.
Nobody involved in the accident suffered serious injuries. Both Craig Johnson and Svedsen were taken to the hospital but suffered only minor injuries and are now back home. Johnson plans on returning to work Saturday, the sheriff's office said.
Ryan Johnson and sheriff Mike Tschirgi said this is a reminder for drivers to move over and slow down if they see flashing lights.
Clayton County patrol deputy Jack Ostrander said what happened to his fellow deputy is a concern for all of them.
"It's something you really don't think about every day when you're getting in and out of your car, but it happens," Ostrander said. "It's just very fortunate that he was in the car at the time of the accident because it could've turned out a lot differently."
Ryan Johnson said drivers who see flashing lights on the side of the road must take precautions.
"Slowing down to a safe and prudent speed when you're coming up on an officer that's on a traffic stop or an accident or, if you can, move over into the other lane if it's safe," Johnson said. "You never know when the officer's going to get out of the car, and if the car door opens, that's probably two or three feet into the lane of traffic."
By law, drivers who see flashing lights from an emergency or work vehicle must either move over or - if, for example, on a two-lane highway - slow down at least 10 miles per hours below the speed limit.
Stricter penalties put into place last summer give more teeth to Iowa's Move Over or Slow Down Law.
A driver who fails to move over could face a fine of at least $500. If failing to move over results in a damaged vehicle, that driver could lose his or her license for 90 days. If it results in another person's injury, it's 180 days. If failing to move over results in another person's death, that means a one-year license suspension and a $1,000 fine, not to mention other possible charges a prosecutor might file.
Officials also warn against texting and driving, which leads to dangerous roads for drivers and law enforcement officers alike.
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