First of all, I’m not an investigative reporter and I haven’t interviewed anyone in preparation for this blog post. And secondly, I hope that I don’t continue to show up on the scene of an accident whenever I go on a road trip, because I am planning on increasing my outings.
Hitting the road again
I like to travel, and a combination of business and pleasure keep me on the road and in the air on a fairly frequent basis. This has seemed to pick up in the past year and even though overall travel is currently down in the United States, there is still a lot of traffic on the roads.
On Friday afternoon, a friend and I drove southeast from Kennewick to Boise, Idaho, in the safest way possible: the roads were clear, we were driving during daylight hours, and of course we were careful to drive the speed limit (this is not just because we know there are always speed traps in between La Grande and Baker City, Oregon).
It’s not often I’m the co-pilot, since I enjoy driving and usually choose to drive, but this time I was the designated co-pilot. When I am the co-pilot (originally the name of one who steers a ship), I try to keep my eyes on the road and not on my phone. This is a secondary layer of safety and is over and above the usual safe-driving protocols. The reality is that we should all want a co-pilot in the passenger seat who can help us arrive safely to our destination. At least until driverless cars come.
Anyway, as co-pilot, I was ready to point out all of the things we saw along the way, including a couple of aggressive drivers, the marker for the 45th parallel, and a serious car accident in the middle of Baker County that had been marked off with orange barrels. It turns out that there had been a a crash with a State Trooper’s SUV. What was going on?
Be a Trooper, save a life
As soon as I could check the local news sources, I discovered that the Oregon State Trooper had collided with a car that was driving the wrong way on the freeway. The news article on Fox 12 KPTV was not very descriptive and you can read if for yourself and then read my version that fills in the blanks.
This is the deal: state troopers and police officers are often putting their lives on the line in the call of duty. A routine traffic stop could end up with a shooting, a bomb explosion, or worse. Every time an officer suits up, there is a chance that serious choices will need to be made.
When I fill in the blanks, this is what I imagine happened. A concerned citizen calls 911 to let them know that someone is driving the wrong way on the freeway. That same person probably mentions signs of erratic behavior as evidence that the driver was intoxicated. Multiple troopers, and county sheriffs, hear the report and every one within a 20-mile radius moves as quickly as they can to the scene of the unfolding drama. One of them takes lead and says “Let’s roll” or something like that.
Then, the troopers start driving directly toward the oncoming vehicle with sirens, horns, lights, and braces for the impending impact. The troopers don’t know what the end result will be, but know that lives will likely be saved, so they proceed with grit and determination until they hear a boom and a screech. It’s over.
I’m thankful there are officers out there every day working to keep the roads safe. Next time you see one, give them a little thanks and let them know that we appreciate the service they render.