Yet another life has been claimed by a hit-and-run collision in Polk County, and this time a local deputy was injured in the process. On Saturday, October 29th, Jessica Enchautegui-Otero was traveling on SR 60 when her vehicle left the road and struck a tree. She suffered minor injuries, and went back up onto the median of the main roadway to flag down help. Around 12:30 AM, Deputy Adam Pennel saw her and stopped to help. After calling for an ambulance, authorities believe another vehicle left the roadway and struck both Deputy Pennel and the victim, killing her and leaving Pennel seriously injured. The driver of this vehicle fled the scene, and has just been arrested. There was a significant reward available for information regarding this incident, and thankfully, the suspect is no longer at large.
Sadly, this is a common occurrence for those who have minor accidents or vehicle issues and seek to flag down help, change a tire, etc. on the side of the road or in the median. This is a dangerous place to be, especially on major roadways like SR 60. We urge you to think through this if you find yourself left in this type of situation when driving.
So, how should you handle a situation similar to the above case?
If you find yourself broken down, or if you have had a minor accident, evaluate your situation. If your car is anywhere near the main roadway, or even just off the edge, you have a choice to make. You can either stay in the car and wait for help, or you can get out of the car and attempt to get help yourself. Getting out of the car is the best choice only if you’re able to get far away from both your vehicle and the roadway. If you stand right by your car, not only could you be hit from another driver, but you could be hit by your own car if someone hit it slightly when going by. If you can stand a good distance back from the road, and still be far away from your car too, then it’s best to do so. If you can’t stand far away from the road, or will be forced to stand right near your car, you’re better to stay inside and wait for help. At least your car will offer some structural protection if you were to get hit.
If you have a cell phone, your first step after evaluating your situation needs to be to call for help. If you don’t have your phone, or are unable to make a call, try to find a flashlight or a reflective object in your vehicle to flag down help. This will allow you to stand farther from the road and grab attention, instead of standing right by the passing cars attempting to flag them down.
Finally, DON’T go into the median or cross the roadway unless absolutely necessary. You are much more likely to get hit this way, and there is no reason to put yourself in harm’s way any further.
We hope you will remember these steps if you find yourself in a precarious circumstance in the future. If you have been injured or lost someone you love to an accident similar to the situations mentioned above, Sessums Law Group will make sure you have the representation you deserve, and that you receive the compensation owed to you. When the unexpected happens, WE STAND FOR YOU.