The Willoughby Fire Chief expressed his anger Sunday morning after a Mentor police officer was killed in a hit-and-run during a traffic stop on State Route 2.
In a post on the Willoughby Fire Department's Facebook page, Chief Todd Ungar shared his disbelief at so many people's disregard for those whose jobs require them to spend time on roadways – police officers, firefighters, city public works employees, state department of transportation workers, tow truck operators, etc.
In the powerful message, he showed his "disgust" at the public's impatient, distracted and impaired driving, putting people at risk. With today's technology, such as voice-to-text and Bluetooth, Ungar said there is no excuse for a person to look at their phone while driving, a factor in so many crashes today.
Not only are people driving irresponsibly, Ungar said they're ignoring all the signs to move over, from emergency lights to reflective clothing to vehicles positioned in a protective way to keep those working on the roadside safe.
"And you wonder why DOT workers place a vehicle as a barrier while they work? And you wonder why firefighters place a 40,000+ pound fire engine at an angle to take up an additional lane so that we can work without worrying about an impatient, distracted, or impaired driver? How many signs are on the road asking that you slow down and move over when you see flashing lights on the berm? Do you???" Unger said in the Facebook post.
Chief Ungar also shared how upset he is that for many, flashing lights on the side of the road signals an inconvenience.
"I’m tired of seeing signs dedicating that portion of the road to a trooper or police officer because they weren’t afforded a lane of protection or the courtesy of taking your foot off the gas for a short period of time. That’s why I’m angry," Ungar said. "This hits too close to home, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the officer killed, the Mentor Police and Fire Departments, and the City of Mentor."
View Chief Ungar's full message below: