Pittsburgh Union Progress: A Crash Responder Safety Week reminder: Slow down, move over near traffic accidents

As part of a news conference about Crash Responder Safety Week on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023, Leslie Osche, Butler County commissioner and chairwoman of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, tells how her son state Trooper Joshua Osche was seriously injured at an accident scene on the Parkway West in August.

Pennsylvania State Trooper Joshua Osche was off duty and traveling on the Parkway West in Robinson just after 11:30 p.m. Aug. 24 when he came upon an accident scene, pulled over, put on a safety vest and got out to help.

Osche was trying to lay light sticks on the ground to mark the area for other drivers when he was struck by another vehicle. He flipped over it and was thrown into the middle of a highway filled with traffic from a concert at The Pavilion at Star Lake. Tow truck driver Blair Johnson rescued Osche by dragging him to the median divider until more help could arrive, but the trooper is still recovering from two broken legs and other injuries he received that night.

Leslie Osche, the trooper’s mother, who also is a Butler County commissioner and chairwoman of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, told that harrowing story at a news conference the commission held at its Strip District headquarters Tuesday to promote Crash Responder Safety Week. The commission reviews transportation projects for federal funding in a 10-county area, but its other duties include running the traffic incident management program that holds monthly meetings to discuss best practices to keep emergency responders safe.

Leslie Oshe was among several speakers who urged motorists to follow the law by slowing down around emergency situations. This year, 34 people have died across the country while responding to emergencies.

Osche said she believes “divine providence” allowed her son to be saved so he and the family can do their part to encourage drivers to be cautious around emergency scenes. The trooper is expected to make a full recovery and already is working behind the scenes doing analysis of cellular records and other investigative data work.

“He will make it. He will be fine,” the commissioner said. “Please slow down. Please pay attention. Follow the law.”

Quoting from the state Motor Vehicle Code, Trooper Rocco Gagliardi said drivers have a “duty” to slow down and move to at least the next lane to avoid causing additional problems at an emergency site. State police will make a special effort to make sure motorists are following those practices during the upcoming holiday season, he said, and will issue tickets to drivers who don’t cooperate.

“We will be watching and doing our duty if you don’t want to do yours,” he said.

Paul A. Sabol recounted other close calls in the Pittsburgh area recently and one fatality, Husam Shuibat, 53, a veteran tow driver who was hit along the Parkway West on Aug. 17. Those accidents are avoidable, Sabol said.

“Move over and slow down,” he said. “Let us do our jobs.”

Read the full story at unionprogress.com