SARASOTA, Fla. -- An opportunity to recognize first responders Thursday, and at the same time remember three people who tragically lost their lives in an accident last month in Ocala.
Thursday's event at the Sarasota Hyatt was called “Staying Alive on 75”. It was designed to motivate law enforcement agencies, as well as express the appreciation of their continuing hard work.
But it was also a day of remembrance, honoring the lives of three people -- including a Florida state trooper and a tow truck driver who died on I-75 last month.
Bonny Duggan would have never imagined speaking in front of hundreds of first responders. On Thursday she did just that, thanking them for their service, and at the same time asking them to strictly enforce Florida's Move Over Law.
“If it can help one other family to not have to go through this, people just start need to be using common sense,” said Duggan.
She lost her husband John last May along I-75 in Ocala. The tow truck driver, along with Florida Highway Patrol trooper Chelsea Rrichard, and George Phillips, were struck and killed while responding to an accident on the side of the road.
“These people have taken away my husband, my son's father, my grandchildren's grandfather. It's not right. How dare they?”
The Move Over Law requires drivers to move into the other lane, or slow down 20 miles an hour below the speed limit, when a first responder or even a tow truck driver is off to the side of the road.
“It's important to those people that work out on these highways each and every day that you give them the room so they can operate safely,” says FHP’s David Brierton.
And by doing that, drivers will be saving lives and preventing heartache -- something Duggan wants no family to experience. “It has been difficult...indescribable. I don't know how to tell someone who hasn't been through it what I’m going through.”
Thursday through Sunday, FHP troopers and local deputies will be out in full force along I-75, trying to prevent fatalities from occurring by strictly enforcing the traffic laws --including the Move Over Law.
The Move Over Law states that on a two lane roadway, you are required to slow to a speed that is 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit. If the speed limit is 20 miles per hour or less, you must slow down to five miles per hour.
If you are driving on an interstate or roadway with multiple lanes of travel in the same direction, and you approach an emergency or law enforcement vehicle parked along the roadway, you must vacate the lane closest to that vehicle as soon as it is safe to do so. If you are unable to safely move over, you must slow down to a speed of 20 MPH below the posted speed limit.