I have written several car accident legal blog entries about police officers
and state troopers being hit while they are parked on the side of a road
in the course of performing their duties. Despite Georgia’s Move
Over Law (also known as the Spencer Pass Law), back in November we had
one exceptionally bad, 4-day period, in which three metro Atlanta police
officers were struck. One of the officers died of his injuries.
Unfortunately, we got more bad news this weekend. Late on Friday evening,
January 4, 2012, an
Atlanta police officer was struck on I-75 at Northside Parkway in Atlanta. Officer Osbert Beckles was working
traffic near the exit. Around 11:25 p.m. Friday, Beckles was sitting in
his car along I-75. Scott Eugene Welker was in a 2011 Hyundai Sonata,
headed northbound on I-75. Welker ran into Beckles’ police patrol
car. The Atlanta police officer was trapped in his car, and had to be
extricated from the police vehicle. He was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital.
Officials said he had broken bones as well as head and chest injuries,
and he was listed in serious condition.
Welker got out of his car and fled the scene. He was apprehended shortly
Welker, who is from Kennesaw, was charged with a host of crimes. He was
charged with driving under the influence, or DUI. He also was charged
with inflicting serious injury by motor vehicle and with reckless driving.
He was charged with failure to maintain his lane, and with making an improper
turn or improper lane change. He was charged with a seat belt violation.
(I did wonder how the officers knew he was not wearing his seat belt,
given that this was a hit and run and that Beckles fled from the scene
before he was caught. The AJC’s article did not say how the police
determined that charge.)
Obviously Welker also was charged with leaving the scene of an accident.
I have written several blog entries about the
Move Over Law we have here in Georgia that requires Georgia drivers to stop when they
have been in an accident:
The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to
or the death of any person or in damage to a vehicle which is driven or
attended by any person shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene
of the accident or shall stop as close thereto as possible and forthwith
return to the scene of the accident
O.C.G.A. § 40-6-270.
The article does not say whether the police have the results of testing
that would show Welker’s blood alcohol level. Under Georgia law,
a person is not allowed to drive with an alcohol content of “0.08
grams or more at any time within three hours after such driving or being
in actual physical control from alcohol consumed before such driving or
being in actual physical control ended.”
O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391.
According to WSB-TV, Officer Beckles is expected to live, which is wonderful
news for the Atlanta community. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his
family and to him as he battles the injuries he has suffered.