SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – A State Highway Emergency Program (SHEP) worker is recovering after being hit by a car on Interstate 85 in Spartanburg County Wednesday morning.
According to South Carolina Highway Patrol, the worker was standing outside of his work vehicle around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday when he was struck by a vehicle.
Trooper said it happened on I-85 southbound near mile marker 75, which is the Boiling Springs exit.
According to SCDOT, the workers’ duties consist of helping people whose vehicles are experiencing mechanical issues, provide assistance during incidents, even stop to clean up road debris.
Law enforcement agencies said incidents like this, unfortunately, are not uncommon. They said it’s a major concern for first responders and those who work in roadside assistance.
“Sometimes we have our minds set and our focus on the person that we are dealing with and it becomes what we call tunnel vision,” said Chief Shandrell Holcombe with the Duncan Police Department.
Chief Holcombe has spent years in law enforcement. He told 7NEWS there have been too many close calls.
“There are cars coming by you to the point where you can feel the vibration of a vehicle when it goes by,” said Holcombe. “Many people don’t really pay attention. They don’t think they are doing anything wrong.”
He said it’s a concern for all roadside responders.
“It’s very alarming and it’s very concerning,” said Holcombe. “Often times people don’t look at the whole picture. Emergency vehicles being a police car, an ambulance, a fire truck, also even tow truck drivers; they are emergency vehicles also with their flashing light on. You are to move over. It’s a law and you are required to move over to another lane if you have a lane and the ability to.”
Under current state law, drivers are required to move over when passing emergency vehicles. If they are unable to, they must slow down.
“When there is a vehicle on the side of the road that is having some work done on it, or there is an emergency unit working on someone, or police have someone pulled over, or fire is pulling over to put out a fire, then that speed needs to be reduced to about half to allow yourself to safely pass that,” Holcombe said.
The crash is leaving roadside workers hoping people will listen.
“You never want to hear of anyone being hurt while they work,” said Holcombe. “We hope and pray that he is going to be okay.”
Highway Patrol said the worker was taken to the hospital following the crash.
The crash caused a lengthy backup and was cleared shortly before 11:00 a.m.
The crash remains under investigation by South Carolina Highway Patrol’s Multi-disciplinary Accident Investigation Team.