Police asks drivers to use caution around crash scenes

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CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) -- A common traffic mistake got caught on a squad car dash camera in Chippewa Falls. Now the Chippewa Falls Police Department wants to remind drivers to use caution when driving near car accidents.

Cars could be seen swerving around and through the crash scene which was surrounded by cones, road flares, a fire truck and tow truck.

The Chippewa Falls Police Department said the crash happened early February, when officers responded to a T-bone crash at the intersection of Seymour Cray Blvd. and Co. Trunk I. Police said two people were sent to the hospital and while the roads were clearly blocked, officers tell us drivers ran straight through the crash scene anyway.

“These vehicles are going around emergency vehicles through the crash scene, right through the center of the crash scene,” explained Officer Joe Nelson with the Chippewa Falls Police Department. “We didn't realize the extent of the problem until we went back and watched the squad dash cam footage.”

Nelson said he was on scene that day, directing traffic as EMS crews worked to help victims and tow trucks cleared the scene.

He said although roads were blocked, one car maneuvered through the crash scene, setting the trend for other vehicles to follow.

“Here, they start to drive over the median and once one person does it, they all start to load in there,” said Nelson.

At one point, an SUV decided to run over a road flare, past the squad car, through the median and eventually getting stuck in a blocked turn lane.

“That is very dangerous. That puts everybody at risk, not just the first responders, but also other drivers as well,” said Nelson.

When a crash occurs, law enforcement officers work to bring crash security. Nelson said that includes making sure people can't get into the scene, making sure EMS have room to take care of victims, closing down the area for emergency vehicles with cones, flares and giving officers a chance to take pictures, reconstruct the scene and investigate.

Nelson said it may seem like a basic rule of safety, but drivers need to remember when there's an accident they should slow down.

“If you find yourself going past cones or past emergency vehicles, you're obviously somewhere where you shouldn't be. And follow officers’ directions. If they're pointing you to go through one direction you need to go that direction,” said Nelson.

Nelson also said when officers have to worry about traffic, they can’t respond quickly to the crash.

“We have to ensure we're able to treat the people that are injured at a crash scene and we can't be getting injured ourselves, emergency personnel can't be injured, tow truck drivers can't be injured because we can't help others if we're injured,” he said.

Another tip is to leave five to ten minutes early for morning commute. Nelson said if there is a crash, leaving early gives people time to take alternate routes and slow down.

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