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State Tropper Hit By Tractor Trailer Urges Drivers To Obey 'Move Over' Law

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) - A Maryland state trooper hit by a tractor trailer is now asking drivers to obey the "move over" law.

Many drivers don't realize they have to move over or drop their speed when passing a police car on the shoulder. The results when they don't were captured in dash cam video of his accident.

Trooper David Avila's traffic stop on June 14 started the same way, but ended in a horrific accident. A tractor trailer driving too close to the shoulder slammed his police cruiser and then hit him.

"I guess I heard the rumble strip just before the vehicle came across or came towards me, took a quick glance over my shoulder and kind of saw it and thank God," Trooper Avila recalled.

He made it to the railing before collapsing. Since then he's been taking physical therapy for injuries to his shoulder, back and legs. He also has post-concussive syndrome; he can't balance and light hurts his eyes.

"Sometimes I look at it and it just doesn't seem like the light is at the end of the tunnel, but I'm able to walk. Doing a lot of physical therapy to get back," Avila said.

The driver who hit him broke the "move over" law. It's there to protect emergency responders. The law says drivers must drop their speed 10 miles under the speed limit or pull to the left lane when they see an emergency vehicle on the shoulder, but many drivers either don't know about the law or they aren't obeying it.

The truck driver, William Riegel Jr. of New Paris, Pa., was fined $100 Aug. 20 for negligent driving and failing to move over. But the officer he hit is paying a much higher price.

"It affects not just the officer and their families, but it's also for protection, for everyone," Avila said.

Doctors aren't sure when Trooper Avila will be able to fully move his right arm again or return to work.

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