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12th Trooper Hit This Winter

February 16, 2011, 6:00 PM by Don Jorgensen

12th Trooper Hit This Winter
A South Dakota Highway Patrolman was injured this morning when he was hit from behind while responding to a truck on Interstate 29.

It happened shortly after six o'clock this morning near the12th street exit in Sioux Falls. The trooper, Shannon Orth is going to be okay, but once again it's a reminder for drivers to slow down when they see flashing lights.

It's becoming an all too familiar sight for the South Dakota Highway Patrol. Another car sits parked in the garage with serious damage.

This crash is just one of several involving the South Dakota Highway Patrol this winter. This car is in the shop too. It happened last Thursday and it's totaled.

So far this winter, a dozen Highway Patrol cars have been damaged. 

"We are very concerned about it, it's an unusual number, it's basically twice as many as we would otherwise expect," Major Randy Hartley said.

In most cases the cars are hit from behind. One trooper told me, they carry guns to protect them from the bad guys, but this winter he said the bad guys have been in cars. 

"I think everyone of them could have been avoided. In every case it was someone over driving the conditions or some action caused by the other driver that did it," Hartley said.

So the Highway Patrol wants to reinforce a message it's said over and over again. 

"When you see a vehicle that's a patrol car or tow truck pulled over the side of the road that's displaying amber cautionary lights there's a reason for that," Hartley said.

And the reason in this case, like so many this winter, was that slippery roads proved dangerous again.

The Highway Patrol says when they lose a vehicle in an accident. Often times they lose a trooper for a few days too, as in the case with Orth.  Not only because they don't have a vehicle, but they also have to go through physical therapy.

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