After NJ trooper killed by crash, a plea for drivers to pay more attention
The death of a 31-year-old State Trooper who was hit by a car Monday evening on Route 295 is a tragic reminder of the risks that emergency responders face when responding to calls on highways, officials say.
Trooper Sean Cullen, who was engaged to be married and was the father of a 9-month-old son, was killed when he was struck by a passing car at the scene of an accident in Deptford. The 22-year-old female driver immediately stopped and cooperated with investigators, authorities said.
While details of the accident have not been released, and the driver was not charged with any crime, the accident highlights the concerns that spurred the state’s so-called Move Over law, which requires drivers to slow down and change lanes when approaching a stopped emergency vehicle.
Christopher Burgos, president of the State Trooper Fraternal Association, said Tuesday that troopers are more likely to be injured or killed by cars or trucks and guns or knives.
“Driver inattention -- I don’t know the results of this investigation -- but that’s always something we have to be very much aware of,” Burgos said.
“In my 30 years as a trooper and my years on patrol duty, I was told early on that you basically have to have eyes in the back of your head because you had things to watch from all different directions at very high speeds,” he said.
“That’s a risk of the job; we accept it. It’s another sad day for the law enforcement community and State Police family.”
The Move Over legislation was signed into law by Gov. Jon Corzine in 2009.
Drivers are supposed to slow down and move over when approaching police, fire and medical vehicles displaying emergency lights, as well as tow trucks and maintenance and motorist aid vehicles flashing amber lights. When drivers are unable to change lanes, they are supposed to drive slower than the posted speed limit and be prepared to stop if necessary.
Violators face fines of $100 to $500.
A year after the law was enacted, Trooper Marc Castellano was struck and killed on Route 195 in Howell.
In December, Trooper Eli McCarson, 30, died after his patrol car hit a utility pole while responding to a call in Salem County.
Dan Alexander contributed to this report.