Washington County Sheriff Dan Starry said a deputy with his office was lucky to walk away from a recent vehicle crash in Hugo without severe injuries.
Squad car dashcam footage from the Jan. 15 incident shows Deputy Greg Reiter tumbling onto the road when an oncoming vehicle strikes a stopped vehicle. As the Twin Cities area braces for an estimated seven to 11 inches of snow, Starry is asking drivers to slow down to prevent near misses like these, or worse.
Reiter had been assisting a passenger of the vehicle, which was involved in another accident.
Minnesota State Patrol, who handled the crash, cited the driver.
State law requires drivers move over at least one lane from stopped emergency vehicles with flashing lights. This includes ambulances, law enforcement vehicles and tow trucks.
Drivers are encouraged to reduce their speed if they cannot safely move over.
Public safety and transportation agencies typically discourage people from driving in winter storms. When staying off the roads isn't an option, Starry said reduced speeds are critical to motorist and first responders' safety.
A likely uptick in car accidents and vehicles driving into ditches, Starry said, means more first responders will be on the roadsides.
"There's many examples, unfortunately, of officers and first responders being injured and killed when the weather is poor," Starry said.
The National Weather Service declared a winter storm warning for much of the Twin Cities Monday. The weather service is also cautioning travelers about white-out conditions south of metro and portions of western Minnesota.