It was a close call for rescue workers in Osceola County as a semi-truck smashed into a fire truck on the side of Florida's Turnpike while first responders were trying to rescue a trapped driver in an earlier rollover crash Saturday evening.
Dashcam video from a responding Osceola County deputy's cruiser showed the semi coming to a stop very close to another emergency vehicle, sending first responders running for safety.
Debris from the crash can be seen flying toward and passing in between several responders on the side of the road.
"They were running. This is our biggest fear when we're at a crash scene," said Sgt. Kim Montes, with the Florida Highway Patrol.
Osceola County Fire Chief Robert Sorenson called the incident "scary," but added first responders train for this type of situation.
Traffic cones were placed on the side of the Turnpike, tapering traffic away from the rescue efforts, and emergency lights were activated at the time of the crash.
Sorenson said fire crews are trained to park the fire truck at an angle, guarding emergency crews while they work.
In this case, no one was in the fire truck, but it could have been much worse.
"It could have taken some rescuers and responders away from that original vehicle, but thank goodness, nobody got hurt," Sorenson said.
While the semi crashed into the fire truck, emergency crews were already working to rescue a trapped driver in a rollover crash on the side of the Turnpike. Investigators said the driver's injuries in the earlier crash were not life-threatening.
Had the crash been worse, it could have delayed rescue efforts.
Montes said the semi crash caught on video is a perfect example to show the importance of Florida's Move Over law, which requires drivers approaching a law enforcement or emergency vehicle with flashing lights to either move to an outer lane or slow down.
"You're really only going to be delayed a few moments," Montes said. "If you don't take the time to do what you're supposed to do, you could change somebody's life forever."
Florida's Move Over Law
Here's what you need to know about Florida's Move Over law, and what drivers face if they don't obey it.
Drivers approaching any law enforcement, fire rescue, Road Ranger or other emergency vehicle, sanitation or utility service vehicle must:
- MOVE OVER: On roadways with multiple lanes of travel in the same direction, drivers must vacate the lane closest to that vehicle as soon as it is safe to do so.
- SLOW DOWN: If you are unable to safely move over, slow down to a speed of 20 mph below the posted speed limit, unless directed otherwise by a law enforcement officer.
- On a 2-lane roadway: Slow down to 20 mph below the posted speed limit.
- If the speed limit is 20 mph or less: You must slow down to 5 mph.
Violating the Move Over law puts both yourself and a public safety professional at risk, and can result in a fine and points on your driver's license.
In her time with the Florida Highway Patrol, Montes said she has also had to run away from cars heading her way during traffic stops.
While no one was hurt in the crash, the semi-truck driver, identified as Joan Roman, was ticketed with careless driving.
A crash report listed Roman as driving in a "careless or negligent" manner. Troopers said they did not believe alcohol was a factor.
Saturday's crash was not the first time a truck from Osceola County Fire Station 57 was hit on the side of Florida's Turnpike. Several years earlier, another Station 57 truck was totaled by another driver while crews were responding to a brush fire.