Dash cam video shows near miss of Wisconsin State Patrol Trooper

By: Kevin Hurd Email
By: Kevin Hurd Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- On the World Wide Web, there is nothing that grabs attention like the unexpected. And so is the case with dash-cam video released on YouTube by the Wisconsin DOT, showing a Wisconsin State Trooper nearly hit and killed by a semi on a traffic stop.

"They always talk about having eyes in the back of your head or a sixth sense," said Lt. Jeff Lorentz, who has been with the Wisconsin State Patrol for 30 years.

He is not shocked, only relieved the trooper in this video was not hurt or killed. He has seen many close calls like this before.

"They say, hey LT I'm sorry about the car and I say I can get cars but can't get another you," Lt. Lorentz says he tells troopers.

Wisconsin's Move Over law requires drivers to change lanes or slow down when emergency vehicles are on the side of the highway. While he says fatalities are down, there is still room for improvement.

"And we're much better at this, but we're not where we want to be," he said.

To get a sense of how powerful the video is, we talked with people at the I-94 rest stop in Menomonie. Many of the people there had just gotten off the interstate and will soon be getting right back on again.

"Frightening, that people don't realize how close vehicles are on the edge of the road and how easy it is to hit them," said Tim Simpson of Sartell, MN.

"Seems like a pretty common sense thing to not sideswipe a police car," said Becca Rusk of Lawrence, Michigan.

The video left a lasting impression.

"That was something," Simpson said as he watched.

And if this image does not leave an impression, perhaps the one at the Eau Claire State Patrol Post will. It is a memorial to trooper Debbie McMinimin, Lt. Lorentz's colleague, hit and killed by a car while on a traffic stop in 1989.

"It was her last traffic stop of the day and at that time we were making the driver's side approaches," he said. "And she went up to the vehicle to issue the warning and on her way back she was struck and killed by a minivan."

Even Lorentz himself says he has been hit five times while in his cruiser. Proof that if not careful, your wheels can easily become a deadly weapon.

"We always enforce being alert for guns, knives and weapons and all that kind of stuff," Lorentz added. "For us that patrol high speed interstate highways it's all about the traffic."

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