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Blowing, icy roads causing headaches for first responders

PAW PAW, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The blowing and icy roads have been a headache for drivers across West Michigan this week.

Many ignored the repeated warnings to stay off the roads, and as a result, tow trucks and emergency responders have been busy pulling drivers out of ditches and responding to weather-related crashes, putting their own lives at risk.

Michigan State Police are issuing another warning this week after two of their own were hit along I-94.

Two motor carrier vehicles were hit in just as many days, in what police say is a result of drivers going too fast in white-out conditions.

Luckily, both officers are fine, but it's happening more and more regardless of the weather, and is being chalked up to drivers not paying attention on the roads.

They're the first to answer our calls for help--rescuing countless stranded drivers out on the highways in the last three days.

But they're also most at risk.

"It increases the odds of us being put in a situation where we can be put or get in an accident ourselves," said Sergeant Paul Leonard with the Michigan State Police Motor Carrier Division from Paw Paw.

Two motor carriers were hit on West Michigan roads in the last two days. Thousands of dollars of damage was done to one of their vehicles, a Tahoe, in Paw Paw.

"Officer Morrison was struck in the rear end by a semi, he was assisting other troopers in an accident on I-94 and at least one other trooper hit on emergency calls during this storm," Sgt. Leonard said.

All three walked away unharmed, but those responsible are now paying the price.

"The driver was issued a citation for driving too fast for conditions; that seems to be the largest violation we see during this time," Leonard said.

Slippery conditions aren't always to blame, though.

Sgt. Lenoard walked away from a crash with minor injuries after he was hit by a distracted driver this past fall.

"I find myself looking over my shoulder more, making passenger side approaches, just being more aware of what's happening around me," he explained.

There was another scare on M-40 and M-43 late last year.

The trooper was hit at an intersection on his way to an accident scene, and then radioed in his own emergency.

Troopers rely on their own training for safety, which can only take them so far.

"You just have to hope that people are doing the right thing," Sgt. Leonard said.

In the meantime, officers remain hopeful that the public will keep a closer eye out for those working to protect them.

Thousands of dollars of damage was done to another patrol car this week after a driver slid through an intersection and hit the trooper in his driver's side door.

Taking those cars off the roads for repair also means one less resource for State Police on the roads, as well as longer response times.