ROWLETT, Texas - Rowlett police and firefighters are taking immediate and drastic action to protect first responders after a police car was struck by a suspected drunk driver for the second time in two weeks.
Effective immediately, the fire and police chiefs say when there is a crash or an assist motorist call along a three-and-a-half-mile stretch of I-30, the interstate will be shut down to ensure the safety of first responders and those involved in the crash.
The latest crash happened Thursday night on I-30. Because of the other crash earlier this month, police teamed up with the fire department to have two fire engines out there in an attempt to make things safer.
That didn't stop one driver, who reportedly swerved out of the way to miss one of the fire engines, but then overcorrected and plowed into a police vehicle and knocking into a second fire truck. Thankfully, no one was inside the squad car at that time. The driver was taken into custody on a DWI charge.
“I’ve been a police officer for 40 years and this is about one of the most dangerous roadways I’ve ever worked on,” said Rowlett Police Sgt. Dean Poos.
“We’ve had two hit in the past two weeks,” said Rowlett Fire Department Chief Neil Howard. “We’ve got to do something different to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
“I’m frustrated, but I’m more worried,” said Rowlett Police Chief Mike Broadnax. “We’re going to get somebody killed out there. It’s going to be one of my guys or Neil’s guys and it could be both.”
FOX 4 has documented previous close calls over the years involving Rowlett Police and Fire along I-30.
FOX 4 News obtained dash cam video that showed when the suspected drunk driver plowed into the police vehicle. Fortunately, the officer inside the vehicle only received minor injuries.
Broadnax and Howard say it’s become so dangerous that the only safe way to clear crashes is to shut down all lanes east or westbound until the scene is cleared.
Chief Broadnax says traffic will be re-routed through the city.
“It seems like the drunks are more attracted to red lights at night, so that seems to be the trend. At least, it has been for us, so we’re going to do it at night only,” Broadnax said. “We think we can get the freeway is shut down for less than 20 minutes, bring our wreckers in reverse flow, get them in and get them out. And that’ll be our guys’ goal is to get that accident cleared as quickly as possible.”
The chiefs are prepared to hear criticism but determined to protect their first responders.
“I’d have to say to the critics, what if it’s you? What if it’s you out there? Would you want us to do this to protect you and your family?” Howard said.
“Criticize me all you want,” Broadnax said. “I’m going to keep our people safe.”