HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- The bridge over Interstate 295, at the Meadowbridge/Pole Green Road exit, in Hanover County, Virginia, is named after Hanover Fire Lt. Brad Clark.
Clark was killed responding to an emergency scene on the interstate in 2018.
A 20-year-old airman lost his life while changing a tire in nearly the same area Monday morning, according to Virginia State Police.
Leaders, including Governor Glenn Youngkin, said the tragic event further showed the need for more drivers to learn about the expanded "Move Over" law in Virginia, which takes effect soon.
Airman Makai Cummings appeared to be changing his tire on the side of I-295 near the Meadowbridge exit when another vehicle hit and killed him.
The collision is classified as a hit-and-run, since the other driver did not stop.
Cummings is from Maryland but was stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina, a spokesperson confirms.
“We have a stop for a minute and just the tragedy of that moment and the reality that the simple act of changing a tire on the side of the road is that dangerous," Youngkin said at an event at the Governor's Mansion on Monday.
The governor recently signed an expansion to Virginia's "Move Over" law.
Starting July 1, 2023, anyone driving down a Virginia highway is required to change lanes if it is safe to do so or at least slow down when they approach a disabled vehicle with its flashers or other warning signals visible.
Those who choose not to can face a traffic ticket or possibly the loss of their license if a person is hurt or property damaged.
"It makes it a primary offense if you don't move over and give someone room to change their tire or look for help," Youngkin said. "It's extremely important. It will go into effect July 1st, so we need help making sure people know this is what’s coming, and for Virginians to do the right thing, which is move over.”
“We want to make sure anyone who stops along our roadways is safe,” said Morgan Dean with AAA Mid-Atlantic.
A majority of drivers AAA surveyed said expanded “Move Over” laws seem like common sense, according to Dean. He said changes in habits like this require other people to consider what its like for the person stranded on the side of the highway.
“As a driver, put yourself in that other person’s shoes; think about what they’re going through. Slowing down, moving over can make all the difference for them in being safe. It really can mean the difference between life or death for them,” Dean said.
“When they do it, other drivers behind them are going to be like okay something is changing here, let me do the same thing. Oh, this person is getting over, they’re giving them space, let me do it too. We want to create that safety buffer for that person along the roadway. Drivers really getting into that mindset is an important part of it,” he continued.
Anyone who witnessed the incident or saw anything at all is encouraged to contact State Police at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (804) 609 - 5656.
The crash remains under investigation with the assistance of the Virginia State Police Crash Reconstruction Team.
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