Nashville Metro Police officers were stricken with grief as they responded to an accident where they learned they had lost one of their own.
Michael Petrina, a 25-year-old officer, was hit and killed while helping with another accident on 1-65 northbound at the Bentwood/Old Hickory Boulevard exit. "This is the most serious of crashes," says Metro Police spokesperson Don Aaron. "A Nashville Police officer in service to this city has been killed."
Petrina, who served in the military, was new to the police force. He graduated the police academy in September. "It's just a very sad day for the Nashville Police Department," Aaron said.
The driver, a 71-year-old man from Florida, was traveling in a motor home with his wife when the accident happened. Just ahead, Petrina and a Tennessee Department of Transportation help truck worker had blocked two lanes blocked with their vehicles, police say. The driver failed to move over soon enough, police say, so he tried to drive in between the two cars.
"The TDOT help truck was side-swiped, and the officer was struck by the motor home," Aaron said.
The TDOT worker tried to yell out to Petrina, who was assisting with traffic, but it was too late.
"We could see the trailer flipped upside down and the truck looked like it was upside down also," said Jason Rager. Petrina became trapped underneath the overturned trailer. He died at the scene.
"The last three officers that we have lost in the line of duty has been on the highways," says Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson.
Almost 10 years ago, Metro Police lost officer Christy Dedman in a similar accident. She was hit and killed while trying to help another driver.
"I can still remember the day with Christy Dedman," said an emotional Anderson. "So, today is just like that day," he added.
Just before he graduated last September, Petrina was given the Christy Dedman award for his positive attitude. His classmates voted for him to be the recipient of the word named in honor of the fallen officer.
This accident calls attention to the move-over law that gained a lot of attention around the time officer Dedman was killed. If an officer, utility worker or emergency vehicle is stopped, drivers are supposed to move over to the next lane or slow down significantly to prevent harming a safety official.
The driver has not been charged.
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