OSHP: Move Over Law confusion led up to chain reaction crash on I-77

NORTH CANTON, Ohio - The Ohio State Highway Patrol is providing new details about what led up to a chain reaction crash that included a patrolman.

Thursday, a portion of I-77 Southbound in Jackson Township was closed between Shuffel and Portage after a four vehicle crash, where a semi ended up on top of a state troopers vehicle nearly crushing the state trooper and two people in the backseat.

"While he was sitting on the right berm with his emergency lights on traffic approaching from the rear started to brake and stop abruptly which created a chain reaction," explained Lieutenant Leo Shirkey of OSHP.

The Lieutenant said the trooper was initially responding to a two vehicle crash. The chain reaction happened a short time later. The two people in the backseat of the cruiser were from the original traffic crash call.

According to investigators, what made this crash so unusual is what witnesses reported. A driver apparently misunderstood the Move Over Law and stopped in the right lane instead of slowing down to pass when they could not safely move over to another lane.

Lt. Shirkey said other drivers began to avoid the stopped vehicle which caused the driver of the semi to lose control and hit the cruiser with people trapped inside.

"I've never seen a crash occur because someone desperately couldn't get over," said the Lieutenant. "One of my troopers yesterday could have seriously been injured or lost his life along with two other private citizens."

Investigators said Ohio's Move Over Law requires motorists to carefully shift lanes or slow down if changing lanes is not possible. They do not advise drivers to come to a complete stop on any of the main lanes of the interstate.

"We understand if you can't move to an adjacent lane. The law requires you to slow down and cautiously proceed past us," said Lt. Shirkey. "The law does not want you to stop in the lane on a 65 mile per hour interstate which causes a chain reaction crash."

The crash remains under investigation. Multiple people were taken to the hospital however no one was seriously injured according to Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Continuing coverage, here.

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