'Our lights are bright for a reason’: Rockbridge County deputy lucky to be alive after close call

Deputy now stressing importance of Move Over Law

ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY, Va. – A Rockbridge County deputy is sounding the alarm after a close call that could have taken his life.

Wrapping up his shift Tuesday morning, Deputy Patrick Word pulled a driver over on Route 60 and quickly turned into a victim.

"I was looking at my computer, just observing the driver's information, the vehicle's information and then next thing I know, I get hit," Word said.

His patrol car was rear-ended, pushing his car into the one he stopped.

"I was seconds, maybe a minute away from getting out of my car to talk to the driver again. Had I gotten out, I don't know that I would be here today," Word said.

Word's lucky to walk away just a little sore and shaken, but now he's shedding light on the bigger problem.

"People not slowing down, people not moving over," Word said.

The move over law requires drivers to do just that: move over when you see an emergency vehicle of any kind and if you can't, slow down. All too often though, that doesn't happen, putting the lives of law enforcement officers, like Word, in danger.

"Something I never want to experience again. I hope nobody has to experience it," Word said.

The driver said the flashing blue lights blinded her.

"Our lights are bright for a reason," Word said.

Now Word is sharing his story so drivers will listen up and officers will live.

"There's no words that can explain how I feel right now. It's just, like I said yesterday, a lot of things going through my head. You know, what if I got out? What would've happened? It could've been a whole lot worse," Word said.

If you get pulled over, Word advises you to slow down until you can find a safe place to pull over.

Virginia State Police identify the driver who hit Word as 68-year-old Marian Guscatt. Police said she’s charged with failure to yield the right-of-way to a police vehicle.

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