Overland Park police officer urges drivers to move over following third injury while on duty
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Three strikes you’re out, that’s the general rule. Not for an Overland Park police officer who has been hit three times while out working the streets. The most recent was a traffic stop Sunday that sent the man to the hospital.
It was sunny outside at about 8:30 Sunday morning, at 151st and Stearns when Officer Trenton Gunter was stopping speeding drivers. From his hospital room Friday, Gunter showed us the results of what started out as a routine shift. Sunday morning.
“This was from the window. When I got hit my arm shattered it and that’s where some of these cuts came from,” he explained.
Gunter said he pulled over a woman for speeding when the routine shift turned into something he’s live through before.
“Traffic wasn’t really that heavy. I remember jumping once I heard the crash,” Officer Gunter said.
As he was walking back to his patrol car, Gunter said he remembers, “I heard tires squealing and I saw part of a car try to start to get to the inside lane.”
He said another driver rear-ended his SUV, which pinned him between that SUV and the car he’d originally stopped.
“I was able to get my elbows onto the ground to take some of the strain off my legs and then I just radioed that I had been hit and that I needed an ambulance,” Gunter said.
He knew his radio call he knew would bring some of his own to the scene.
“My thought at that point was I know they’re going to take care of me but I can try and lighten the situation a little bit.”
The first guy there was a friend, his fitness partner.
“I just looked at him and I said, ‘Dude, this is going to be a big setback in my workout routine.’ He just laughed because he knew the humor behind it,” he said.
Humor that helped ease the worry but that doesn’t take away from the severity of what he calls a very real and familiar hazard. Gunter said, “The frequency that we make stops and are in the position to be harmed in some sort of vehicular accident are much more common than being in a shootout with a suspect.”
He knows this because last year, he was t-boned in an intersection while working an accident. Back in 2013, he hit by a drunk driver while parked in his patrol car.
“It’s just a hazard that comes with the job and it’s something we accept, but anything we can do to get the message across,” Officer Gary Mason, also with the Overland Park Police Department, said.
It’s a message Officer Gunter wants drivers to hear loud and clear: “You’re driving a 3,000-pound weapon and if you’re not paying attention, then that’s what it turns into.”
There is a Move Over law in place in Kansas and in most states across the country. Officer Mason said if you don’t safely change lanes or slow down when you see someone on the side of the road, you could get ticketed. Kansas Highway Patrol is investigating this crash. No details yet about the driver or if he faces charges. Officer Gunter should make a full recovery.