First responders ask for harsher criminal penalties for Move Over law

By Gabriella Rusk 

ENDEAVOR, Wis. (WMTV) - The Endeavor Moundville Volunteer Fire Department hosted lawmakers and other local authorities to discuss how to better enforce the Move Over Law.

Nearly four years ago, Endeavor Moundville firefighter Larry Millard was hit and killed when responding to the scene of an accident.

Millard was a 34-year veteran of the department.

“We need to do what we can to remember him,” said Chief Mike Bourdeau. “We just want justice for Larry and for those who have been hit out on the highway.”

He says Millard’s death is a constant reminder of how dangerous their job can be.

“[My wife] doesn't worry when the pager goes off and we go to a building fire,” Bourdeau said. “When we go on the highway that’s when she really worries about my safety out there.”

Lake Delton Fire Chief Darren Jorgenson says they have close calls on a regular basis.

“It’s a day no firefighter or fire chief ever wants to deal with,” Jorgenson said.

In February 2018, a Lake Delton firefighter was struck and severely injured while trying to direct traffic around a crash site.

“For us, we were lucky he’s still alive,” said Jorgenson.

The department recently added electronic signage to its truck to help direct motorists. Jorgenson says it’s been already been helpful for those on site.

“We want to do everything we possibly can to give motorists warning,” Jorgenson said. “Let them know what we want them to do.”

Unlike other states, Wisconsin does not have criminal penalties for hitting and injuring or hitting and killing an emergency first responder.

“We don’t’ have those standards,” said Bourdeau. “We have the Move Over Law in Wisconsin, but it’s only a ticket.”

State Representative Katrina Shankland and State Representative Jon Plumer were both eager to listen to the fire chiefs and brainstorm ways to help.

“Hopefully this is a nonpartisan issue too,” Bourdeau said. “If we're not safe, we can’t help serve the public.”