BOX ELDER COUNTY — A Utah Highway Patrol trooper had a close call on a treacherously snowy day on the roads. But tragedy was avoided thanks to the honk of a horn.
UHP troopers are usually the first on the scene when there's an accident on the state's freeways. But all too often in this bad weather, the troopers are becoming victims themselves.
Just this weekend, Lt. Lee Perry was helping another driver who slid off the road in Box Elder County when he was struck by another car. He says he was getting flares out of his trunk when he heard the distinct sound of warning beeps - giving him just enough time to jump out of the way.
"He hit my car and the back of my car just swung around and hit me in the knee and knocked me down," he said.
I'm doing a lot better than I would have been if the guy hadn't honked his horn.
–Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Lee Perry
Perry is also a state representative, now walking with a limp during the legislative session because of the accident.
"I'm doing OK, I really am," he said. "I'm doing a lot better than I would have been if the guy hadn't honked his horn."
Perry says the main reason troopers are getting hit during snowstorms is that drivers just aren't slowing down. In 2012, 12 troopers were hit by cars. Lt. Perry became the seventh trooper to be hit this year alone.
During last Thurday's snowstorm, four troopers were hit by cars. Kristopher Cope had to get stitches in his hand.
"I remember seeing glass and car parts fly past my head and then the force of the car taking me with it," he said.
"We're very vulnerable out there on the side of the road and we can be hurt very easily," he said. "We all have families we'd like to get back home to." -Utah Highway Patrol Lt. David Brooks
David Brooks, who was also hit, says it's all about drivers being aware of the road conditions and their speed.
"We're very vulnerable out there on the side of the road and we can be hurt very easily," he said. "We all have families we'd like to get back home to."
Perry is just happy he can go back home. With all the snow his part of the state has received so far, he's grateful his coworkers have been able to return safely to their families as well.
"I feel truly lucky that I'm the first one in my area to get hit this year," Perry said. "I hope I'm the only one at this point."
Don't forget, it's Utah state law that when you see a trooper of someone off to the side of the road, you must slow down and move over one lane. It's a law troopers say they're going to more strictly enforce.