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Man Charged with Killing HERO Officer Following a Failure to Comply with Georgia Move-Over Law

June 04, 2011

The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) put the Highway Emergency Response Operator (HERO) program into place 15 years ago. The main purpose behind the program was to try and reduce congestion on the highways by having HERO officers respond to incidents quickly and efficiently so that the roads could be cleared and the flow of traffic restored.

One of the goals of a HERO officer is to minimize or remove any factors that are causing a disruption in traffic flow on the freeways and at incident locations. By minimizing and relieving congestion, they try and reduce the response time that it takes for emergency vehicles to arrive at the scene of an auto accident. The officers patrol the Atlanta area freeways during the week and on weekends from early morning to about 9:00 PM. They are also required to be on call outside of regular hours. Some of their other duties include:

  • Providing support to law enforcement, first-response and other emergency services
  • Help to clear stalled vehicles from the travel lanes of the freeway
  • Help stranded motorists with mechanical problems such as changing flat tires, jump starts, weak batteries, provide fuel, coolant and other auto needs

First HERO Operator Killed

On the morning of January 31, 2011, HERO Officer Spencer Pass was helping a motorist on highway I-85 in the emergency lane near the Metropolitan Parkway exit south. He had parked his truck behind the motorist's vehicle and was standing at the left front of the vehicle when a Ford F-450 dually pickup pulling a landscaping trailer sideswiped his truck. The HERO officer was subsequently struck and killed in the truck collision.

The driver of the dually truck, Kirk Sherwood, was injured and hospitalized. He has been charged with misdemeanor vehicular homicide as well as one count of violating the "move over law" and other minor traffic offenses.

The Move-Over Law

The Move-Over Law in Georgia provides that drivers must move-over for emergency vehicles stopped on the side of the highway. The law was put into place to keep law enforcement officers and the motorists they are aiding or citing safe from crashes with passing cars.

More than 30 states have enacted Move-Over Laws due to the increasing numbers of police, emergency response technicians, and DOT workers being killed around the country. The fine for being cited for a Move-Over violation is $500 in Georgia.

The Move-Over Law requires that drivers move over one lane (if possible) when passing an emergency vehicle that is parked on the shoulder of the highway. If moving over one lane is not possible, then drivers are required to slow down below the posted speed limit and be prepared to stop.

If an accident occurs, like the one mentioned above, where a law officer or emergency personnel or motorist is seriously injured or killed due to a driver's failure to obey the Move-Over Law then other consequences for that driver will be far more serious than just a simple fine. A driver who injures a police officer because the driver fails to comply with the Move-Over Law may face criminal penalties and liability in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

If you have suffered serious injuries in an Atlanta auto accident or a car crash anywhere in Georgia, Montlick and Associates can fight for your best interests. Our Georgia & Atlanta Auto Accident Attorneys will work hard to help you obtain the best possible results in your Georgia auto accident insurance claim or lawsuit. Our Atlanta auto accident attorneys have been representing the best interests of Georgia auto accident victims for over a quarter of a century.

Our experienced Georgia Auto Accident attorneys are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.