LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Funeral services for Louisville Metro Police Department fallen Officer Zach Cottongim, who was struck by a vehicle while working on an interstate, were held Wednesday.
Sixty-one other roadside responders have died been killed in similar situations this year, according to National Struck By Heroes.
What You Need To Know
- 62 roadside responders have been struck and killed this year
- Three tow truck drivers are teaming up to spread awareness about Slow Down/Move Over laws
- A memorial drive for a fallen LMPD officer who was struck while working is planned for Jan. 8, 2022
- The event will include discussions, prayer and a procession route
The Tompkins family was mourning the loss of another roadside responder this week.
“I want people to do slow down because it’s really a risk to everyone,” said the oldest son, Anthony Tompkins Jr.
Anthony, April, and their three children spent Wednesday morning making signs for Officer Cottongim’s procession. The couple runs a Facebook group called Team Hookers – SDMO Worldwide. Discussions about how to keep everyone on the road the safe are held in the public group.
“People just need to put the phones down. That is gonna cost our lives. It takes two seconds. You can wait until you pull over. You can wait until you get wherever you’re going,” said April Tompkins.
Officer Cottongim was the 61st roadside responder, including tow truck drivers, to be killed this year.
“It’s heart-wrenching every time we lose another operator or another law enforcement or another ambulance or another fire, DOT, or construction worker,” says Anthony Tompkins.
The parents have worked as firefighters and with EMS before becoming tow truck drivers.
Over the years they have lost many to what they said is a preventable death.
“You see flashing lights and you see somebody trying to get help to Slow Down/Move Over out of that lane. Save us, save our lives. We want to come home to our families,” said April.
The Tompkinses teamed up with Nick Petrusky, another tow truck driver to educate the community about the Slow Down/Move Over laws.
“We might work for different companies, but in the end, we’re here for the same cause, which is to bring awareness to the situation,” said Petrusky.
They are organizing a memorial drive to honor the fallen officer on Jan. 8, 2022.
“Every day, everybody wants to go home to their family safe. You know, my kids want to see me home at the end of the day,” said Petrusky.
Distracted drivers make the job he enjoys dangerous.
“Last night, I was loading up a wrecked pickup truck on 264 and nobody wants to move over, slow down nothing,” says Petrusky.
The group hopes by spreading awareness, more people will drive more carefully.
“Sometimes it’s easy as a society to become naive to these types of things when they happen. Unfortunately, an LMPD officer lost his life because somebody didn’t slow down and move over. This could have been prevented,” …….