Hurricane Irma has left a trail of devastation and death in its wake. Among the death toll are two law enforcement officers who were involved in a fatal collision while driving during the storm. The deaths raised concerns of dangerous road conditions and other hazards from the hurricane. These conditions threaten the safety of pedestrians and drivers in the wake of the hurricane.
Here’s what you need to know about the tragedy:
On Sunday morning, September 10, two law enforcement agents were killed in a head-on collision. The accident took place in a rural county southeast of Tampa, Florida. Hurricane Irma was beginning its full descent on Florida at the time the collision occurred.
Hardee County Sheriff’s Deputy Julie Ann Bridges, 42, was heading home in a marked police cruiser. Meanwhile, Hardee County Correctional Institute Sergeant Joseph J. Ossman, 53, was driving to work in his 2012 Nissan Altima. He was a resident of Sebring, Florida. According to local media reports, Bridges, a resident of Wauchula, Florida, had just ended her shift at a hurricane shelter. The two officials struck each other in a head-on collision, and both died as a result of the accident.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the cause of the crash is still unknown. It is possible that hazardous driving conditions caused by the hurricane played a role, but further investigation is needed to reach a conclusion. Both officials were wearing their seatbelts at the time of the accident.
The Tragedy Raises Concerns of Dangerous Road Conditions
The fatal crash raised concerns of hazardous road conditions caused by Hurricane Irma. In fact, law enforcement agencies in Florida took measures to pull deputies and officers off the streets as Irma increased its fury on Sunday morning. Safety concerns from the storm’s effects are causing drivers to take extra precautions while driving around storm-ravaged areas.
The best and safest option is to avoid driving during storms. However, if you must drive in a storm, or after a storm, what can you do to increase your safety?
- Be aware of your surroundings. If you are driving during a severe storm, it is important to remember that the wind can blow objects into the road. Trees, branches, power lines, and other debris can create unsafe road conditions. If you are driving, watch out for falling objects, and look out for obstacles in the road ahead.
- Go slow. While driving in a storm, it is important to reduce your speed to about 5 to 10 miles per hour under the speed limit. This can allow you to have more reaction time if you see an obstacle in the road, as well as increase your ability to avoid an accident. If visibility becomes limited, it is a good idea to pull over in a safe place and wait out the storm, or to at least decrease your speed accordingly.
- Avoid flooded areas. If the road is flooded, do not assume your car can make it through. Some areas of water may be deeper than they appear. Swift currents can also make it harder for your car to make it through. If you choose to drive in a flooded area, you risk getting stuck or caught in the flow of the river.
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