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Fallen officer's daughter reminds drivers of "Move Over" law

Posted at 8:44 AM, Feb 23, 2018

In the past two years, Michigan State Police say they've issued more than 280 citations for drivers not obeying the state's "move over" law.

The law is a life saver, giving emergency vehicles enough space on the side of the road to do their job but it's a law many drivers ignore.

Ignoring the move over law can have a devastating impact.

Where US-127 and I-69 meet in Bath Township may just be another interchange to you, but for Megan Priess it is an interchange that changed her life.

“He had dropped me off at school that day so I was expecting to see him later that night,” Priess said.

On Jan. 25, 2000, Megan's father, 43-year-old Officer Gary Priess, pulled a driver over in the southbound lanes of US-127.

A speeding semi-truck would leave the road, hitting Priess's cruiser, which then hit and killed the 18-year Dewitt Township Police veteran.

“He was selfless, loved his job but he loved his family even more than that,” Priess said. “He put a smile on everyone's face that he came into contact with.”

Even though the move over law didn't go into effect until 2001, if that driver moved over Megan believes her dad might still be alive today.

“I just don't think a lot of people remember the law that you're supposed to get over for emergency vehicles,” Priess said.

Tow truck drivers are also included in the law.

“Anytime you get out of the tow truck it could be the last time your family sees you,” says William Miller, who works for PJ’s Towing in Lansing.

Miller says he has had many near-death experiences, even while underneath a car.

“You take your eyes off the road, you could take somebody's life real quick,” Miller said. “Then you have to think what you would feel if your loved one was out there and they got hit and killed.”

The Emergency Responder Safety Institute estimates 50 tow truck drivers are killed nationwide each year because drivers don't give them enough space. For our police and emergency responders, that number is an estimated 10 to 12.

Michigan State Police troopers can't begin to count the number of close calls.

“I was policing a traffic crash that happened because of the snow and then people aren't paying attention or taking care to be able to be able to stop in time,” said Trooper Cody Zontz. “When they start sliding off toward the traffic stop, I’ve had to jump into the ditch before.”

Failing to yield to an emergency vehicle is a misdemeanor which adds four points to your license.

Injure or kill someone, you could serve up to 15 years in prison and up to $7,500 in fines.

Priess would give anything for a few last words to her father.

“I would tell him that I love him very much, I know he would be proud me and my brother and where we are today,” Priess said. “We miss him so much but we know he is always looking over us.”

Priess hopes her father's story will remind drivers to move over and save lives.

Stormy Greenwalt, now 50-years-old living in Owosso, was charged with one count of negligent homicide in Officer Priess’s death.

Greenwalt served 90 days in jail, two year’s probation and 60 days community service.