Trooper hit responding to crash speaks out about dangerous conditions

Trooper speaks about job hazards during dangerous conditions after he is injured on I-94. (WWMT/Courtesy Michigan State Police)

During the unprecedented arctic freeze, police have remained busy bailing drivers out and, according to Michigan State Police, troopers responded to 183 crashes in southwest Michigan, including crashes involving five troopers.

Michigan State Police Sergeant Jim Campell would retire from the force in 28 days. He had to be cut out of his own cruiser on Tuesday after an accident.

"This was not quite the bang I was hoping to go out on,” Campbell said.

On Tuesday, Campbell, a MSP crash reconstructionist, was headed to a scene on I-94 East near Lawrence.

"I knew it was coming. The minute I saw it coming I was like, I'm getting hit," Campbell said.

While the snow is not the problem on the roads, the ice is still causing accidents on the roadways since it's too cold to thaw out.

Police said a driver following a semi-truck in white-out conditions lost control then hit Campbell, who was traveling in the emergency lane in the opposing direction, head on.

“I'm trying to get those people, make sure nobody's hurt and as i'm going along the cable barrier with my lights on he was behind the semi. The semi slowed down, he panicked, hit his brakes and lost control. He was going too fast, but under the circumstances it's something he never encountered before and didn't know what to do," Campbell said.

The force pinned the sergeant inside his vehicle.

“It punched everything, took out the entire wheel well. They had to smash the windows out and get the Jaws of Life out and pry the car door off to get me out of there,” Campbell said.

Both Campell and the other driver made it out with minor injuries.

Campbell said his cruiser is one of four involved in crashes that same day in West Michigan, including a K-9 vehicle.

“The dog was good, but it shattered out the window there, did all the damage there,” Campbell said.

The K-9 cruiser and Campbell’s cruiser were fixed at Rob’s Tire & Auto Care in Mattawan.

Owner Rob Brooks said he's had close to 100 calls for service during the last week of January.

“I think we've done nine Thursday, and the sun's been shining. The shop is probably about a week or two behind just because we've had to pull guys out of the shop and put them in trucks,” said Brooks.

Campbell said drivers need to take warnings more seriously to stay off the roads in hazardous conditions.

“Anything else can wait a day or two. Stay home, if you don't stay home, we can't stay home then we're out there in this,” said Campbell.

State police want all drivers to remember that by law drivers have to move over at least one lane for emergency vehicles or slow down.

An amendment to this law that takes effect on Feb. 13, 2019, will additionally require motorists to reduce their speed by at least 10 mph below the posted speed limit when approaching a stationary emergency vehicle

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