Bill aims to increase penalties for failing to yield for emergency responders

KBTX News 3 at Ten(Recurring)
Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 7:56 PM CDT
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CENTERVILLE, Texas (KBTX) - One Brazos County firefighter is working to share his story in hopes to keep other first responders safe.

A semi-truck crashed into a minor vehicle crash that the Centerville Fire Department was responding to on June 6, 2022, along I-45. This incident left one woman dead and injured two firefighters, including Colton Adams.

In stark comparison, Adams is now watching the news of a West Volunteer firefighter who was killed Tuesday when a semi-truck failed to yield while on the scene of a vehicle fire just an hour and a half away.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s emergency services, doesn’t matter if it’s construction workers. There’s somebody’s baby under that uniform, mother, dad, son, daughter. It doesn’t matter, somebody wants them to come home and they want to go home, too,” Adams said.

Adams remembered his own trauma, saying it still haunts him when he sleeps just 10 months later. Adams lost his leg due to the impact of the semi-truck.

“I look back and all I see is the red 18-wheeler coming up between the median and the fire truck,” he said. “The doctor came in and said if I want to physically be back to doing what I was, he would recommend taking it [off] below the knee so I turned over and I said, ‘all right, let’s do this’. I’m not gonna let this beat me.”

Now, Adams is determined to ensure this tragedy doesn’t happen again. This starts with changing the laws.

A new bill proposed in the Texas Legislature would increase penalties for failing to follow ‘Slow Down Move Over’ laws.

“We need as many people as possible at the Capitol to vote in favor of House Bill 898 to support us in our fight to save lives and go home every day,” Adams said.

This bill is being pushed by the Texas EMS Alliance, Southwest Tow Operators and other first responder groups. They hope to pass the bill during the current legislative session to go into effect in September 2023.