Stories behind the sign: The deadly dangers of not ‘moving over’ for stopped vehicles
CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Between 2013 and 2017, the Ohio State Patrol reported 58 crashes on state roads due to a failure to obey the Move Over law, which requires all drivers to move over one lane or slow down when they see flashing lights on the side of the interstate. In those crashes, there were 58 people injured and two people killed.
One of those people was Michael Kennedy.
The tow truck driver was killed on Monday, May 11, 2015, as he was changing a tire on the side of I-80 EB on the Ohio Turnpike.
Also known as “Turnpike Mike,” he left behind a family that clings to cherished memories of his life and personality.
"He was a character, but there was so many memories," said his daughter, Holly Colman.
"It's mainly the ones with the grandkids," added her husband, Joe Colman, the son-in-law of Michael Kennedy. "He cherished every moment with them."
Michael Kennedy's wife, Vicki Kennedy, said she found out about her husband's death when the Ohio Highway Patrol came to her home, shortly after his death.
Kennedy died when a semi-truck driver failed to move over into the next lane, swiping Mike as he worked on the side of the busy interstate. Mike died at the scene. The driver of the semi stopped and later faced some legal repercussions, but did not spend any time in jail.
“I was devastated. But I was angry. Because he clearly had to see my dad with his lights and his reflector jacket on,” said Holly Colman.
In May of 2018, the Ohio Turnpike commemorated Michael Kennedy, putting up a sign with his name and a reminder to motorists to "move over" whenever they see the flashing lights of officers, truck drivers, and first responders on the side of the road.
"If you don't pay attention, if you don't know the law is to move over, there could be consequences to that," said Brian Newbacher with the Ohio Turnpike. "Because if you fail to do so and you kill someone, not only are you ruining someone's life and someone's family's life, you're also ruining your own life."
When dedicating the interstate sign to Kennedy in front of his family, Turnpike Chairman Jerry Hruby said he hoped seeing the new dedicated signs will be a reminder to everyone who drives on Ohio roads.
"We hope, number one, all will remember Turnpike Mike by seeing these signs posted along the turnpike, and we hope it's a remembrance of how in just an instant, a great life can be taken," he said.
The family of Michael Kennedy hopes that will happen, too.
“There does not need anybody else to be killed or hit. There’s enough. There does not need to be anymore. It’s very important.”
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