FOLLOWING TRAFFIC SIGNALS CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE

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On August 28th, 65-year old Johnny Melvin Crouch was crossing Augusta Road in Greenville, SC when he was struck by multiple vehicles, including one driven by a deputy.  Mr. Crouch died at the scene.  The deputy did not have his blue lights on and was not responding to a call at the time of the accident and is on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.  Since the accident involved a deputy, the South Carolina Highway Patrol is conducting an investigation, and the sheriff’s department is also conducting an internal investigation to determine if there were any policy violations.  Residents in the area noted that there were no traffic lights or caution lights in the intersection between Augusta Road and Old Augusta Road where the accident occurred, and that pedestrians often have to cross the highway to reach the city bus stop and the Lil’ Cricket food store.

A Light Can Save a Life

Section 56-5-970 of South Carolina law regulates traffic-control signal legends, although it does not expressly require that roads be equipped with traffic signals or pedestrian lights.  Section 56-5-590 regulates pedestrian signs and crossings, but it also does not require that roads be equipped with lights or walk signs.  Residents can petition for a pedestrian crossing or a traffic light with their local politicians. They can also consult with the South Carolina Department of Transportation’s Bicycle and Pedestrian program, but they might have difficulty navigating the system.  Consulting with an experienced traffic attorney may help prevent another tragedy as what happened with Mr. Crouch.

When in Doubt, Ask for an Attorney

In early August, Cpl. Ken Proffitt was fired from his deputy position after an investigation revealed the deputy ran a red light that caused an accident on the intersection between Two Notch Road and Trenholm Road near Interstate 77. Proffitt did not have on his blue lights and was not responding to a call when he ran a red light that flipped over the police cruiser and destroyed the other vehicle. Proffitt told investigators at the scene that he believed that he had the green light, but surveillance footage from a nearby convenience store proved otherwise. 

The other driver, Katie Miles, said she was grateful that the investigators at the scene did not take Proffitt at his word and did not issue any tickets or citations until the investigation was completed.  Miles assumed the investigators would blame her as the civilian and give a pass to Proffitt as a law enforcement officer.

Miles was lucky that there was surveillance footage and Proffitt’s questionable driving record as a deputy marked him for discharge, but not all roads—like the one in Greenville—have traffic lights, let alone surveillance cameras. Miles is not alone in wondering if an investigator would hold another officer’s word over a civilian.  If you have been injured in an automobile accident with a law enforcement officer or other governmental agent, you may still be entitled to recover for your injuries.  You should consult with an experienced automobile accident attorney any time you are injured in a car wreck that is not your fault.

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