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'Could have been a lot worse': 2 Arapahoe County Sheriff patrol cars struck in under 2 weeks

Exclusive camera video shows one of the collisions.
 Two ACSO patrol cars struck in under two weeks
Posted at 6:34 PM, Nov 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-02 21:01:29-04

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. —- Colorado's "move over" law was introduced in 2005, but the last few weeks in Arapahoe County indicate some drivers may need a refresher.

On Oct. 15, the patrol car of an Arapahoe County deputy was struck by a trailer attached to the back of a Honda Pilot. The driver was charged and fortunately, the deputy wasn't injured

On Oct. 24, Deputy Derek Helveston's patrol car was struck near Interstate 225 while he was sitting inside. Helveston was helping with traffic control while officers investigated another crash nearby.

"I know the initial impact knocked the wind out of me. It felt like I couldn't breathe. [I was] trying to get over the radio to our dispatchers to let them know what happened," said Helveston. "It could have been a lot worse. I know after the fact, thinking about it, I definitely think it could have been a whole lot worse."

The driver who struck Helveston was charged and transported to a nearby hospital with serious face injuries.

Body camera video obtained exclusively by Denver7 shows the moments after the collision.

According to research from the Emergency Responder Safety Institute, there were 46 emergency personnel deaths in 2020. Thus far in 2021, there have been 53 deaths.

The institute defines personnel as "firefighters, law enforcement officers, emergency medical technicians, tow truck operators, mobile mechanics, and safety service patrol operators."

"Whenever you see those lights, you know that there's going to be in some way, shape or form, a pedestrian. And a pedestrian versus vehicle never ends well for the pedestrian, regardless of who they are," said Trooper Josh Lewis with the Colorado State Patrol.

In Colorado, penalties were increased in 2017 for drivers who fail to obey the state's move over law. The Move Over for Cody Act was named for fallen state Trooper Cody Donahue.

In 2020, a law was passed requiring drivers to drop to specific speeds when passing emergency vehicles.

"I can tell you not long ago, I stopped somebody who had no idea this was still a law. So we're still struggling with making sure people understand that you need to move over," Lewis said.

According to data obtained in a public records request, in 2020 there were at least 16 instances of a Colorado State Patrol car being struck by another driver. Thus far in 2021, there have been at least 18 instances.