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Amber Alert

Monday, January 21, 2008

Trucker found who clipped trooper’s door

Tennessee Highway Patrol said it found the driver of a big rig that side-swiped a trooper’s car during a Jan. 12 traffic stop, nearly taking off its door.At about 11:30 p.m., Trooper Charles Melhorn helped a motorist secure a loose tailpipe on northbound Interstate 75, near mile marker 42 in McMinn County. Melhorn just had gotten back into his patrol car when the truck roared past without slowing, hitting the still-open door, the patrol said.

Melhorn’s dash-mounted video camera showed that his blue lights were on and that his car was completely in the emergency lane, the patrol said.

The camera also revealed that the truck bore the logo of Smithway Motor Express, recently bought by Western Express, the patrol said. The company fully cooperated with the investigation and helped the patrol find the driver and his rig in Ohio, the patrol said.

No charges have been filed, but the case was turned over to the McMinn County prosecutor for grand jury consideration, the patrol said.

The 1977 farce Smokey and the Bandit includes a scene in which a laughing trucker uses his rig purposely to knock off the open door of Jackie Gleason’s patrol car – a funny stunt in the movies but potentially deadly in real life.

Tennessee is one of a number of states with a “move over” law that requires drivers to slow down and, if at all possible, move to a farther lane whenever approaching a parked emergency vehicle on the shoulder. Violations are punishable by a maximum of a $500 fine and 30 days in jail. More serious charges are possible if the grand jury concludes that the trucker intended to hit the trooper or his car.Source