A Carrollton police officer recently honored for saving a life nearly lost his own life during a routine stop to check on an injured dog.
He and a fellow officer were forced to jump behind a barricade to avoid being hit by a distracted driver. It’s one of several recent incidents highlighting the dangers first responders face on the road.
Police cameras captured the moment early Monday morning when a driver slammed into Ofc. Kendrian Tilmon’s police cruiser parked on I-35 near Valwood Parkway.
“We had posted our vehicles in such a way that you had no choice but to see us,” Tilmon said. “In my seven years in law enforcement I have never been put into a situation where I’ve had to jump out of a way of a moving vehicle, so it was kind of an eye opener that people really don’t pay attention to what’s going on on the highway.”
Police say the driver was not intoxicated but was distracted.
“If we hadn’t been paying attention and we were unaware of what was going on behind us, it could have been a fatality,” Tilmon said, who was recently been honored for helping pull a suicidal man to safety who tried to jump from an overpass.
In Rowlett, officer safety at accident scenes has become such a concern the department decided to shut down a 3-and-a-half-mile stretch of i-30 over Lake Ray Hubbard when crashes occurred. The decision came after two recent incidents were drivers careened into parked squad cars.
Dallas and Irving Fire Departments are now using retired fire units and blocker trucks.
“The vest that I wear every day, it doesn’t stop moving vehicles so it’s up to the public again to realize what’s going on ahead of them, look ahead, see what’s going on and be prepared for whatever is coming your way,” Tilmon said.
Carrollton police say they hope drivers will get the message to slow down and move over, but they're also reviewing their policies to see what more they can do to ensure officers go home to their families.