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On Crash Responder Safety Week, MDOT Worker Recounts Being Hit By A Car Four Times

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Every day Steven Stinchcomb goes to work as an emergency response technician, he knows he's risking his life.

On Crash Responder Safety Week, it's time to increase awareness to lower the chances. Stinchcomb has been hit by a car four times in his career. But a moment two-and-a-half years ago stands out, as he laid on his back on I-695.

"I'm looking up at the sky and I see cars going around me on both sides," he told WJZ while sitting in his response truck. "I'm like, 'Man, I need to get up and get out of here before I get hit again.' So I stood up and ran in front of my truck as fast as I could."

His scars have healed but the memories are fresh.

"I had a pretty good cut on my hand from my pocket knife and I had some scraps and bruises from being dragged on my lower extremities," he said.

Other highway workers weren't as fortunate.

Last month, 38-year-old AAA worker Muhammad Shehzad was killed by a driver on I-70 in Marriottsville after changing a flat tire. Since 2016, there have been 68 crashes at sites where Maryland Department of Transportation first responders were tending to traffic calls.

Joey Sagal, deputy administrator of operations for the transportation agency, is urging drivers to be cautious.

"We're asking and urging motorists to slow down, move over when you can and if you can't move over, please recognize the opportunity to at least slow down when you can," he said.

Cameras on state trucks were installed years ago but can only help so much when people text while driving or don't pay attention. Gov. Larry Hogan has declared Nov. 8 to 14 as Crash Responder Safety Week in an effort to raise awareness about first responders at accident scenes.

Stinchcomb recognizes the benefits of the job.

"It's a good job. I love helping people," he said. "We're like the unsung heroes. We get to help people."

Stinchcomb is lucky to be alive.

A year-and-a-half ago, Stinchcomb was presented with the Lifesaving Award from the American Red Cross. He said moments like that make up for all the bad ones at his job.

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