SAN ANTONIO – A member of a crew known to help drivers who are in need on our local highways is recovering from injuries he suffered while doing that job.
Chris Rose, an operator for the HERO program, was hit by a car August 21 on Loop 410 near Marbach Road as he worked to block off the scene of an earlier crash there.
According to San Antonio police, the driver who ran into Rose was not intoxicated. They are still investigating the cause of the crash.
“(Rose) is recovering from his injuries in the hospital. He’s doing OK,” said John Gianotti, the operations manager for TxDOT’s TransGuide Center. “We’ve had other minor injuries before, but this is the worst one we’ve ever had.”
HERO, which stands for Highway Emergency Response Operator, is a program that the Texas Department of Transportation introduced into the San Antonio area two years ago.
Rose and other operators go to the rescue of drivers who have been involved in crashes on local highways, or are stranded there by car trouble.
“They’ll block off a lane of traffic, they’ll put out cones, they have arrow boards. They have lights on their trucks,” Gianotti said.
Despite all of those warning signs, Gianotti says he sees a lot of near-misses from his office, which overlooks a bank of monitors with cameras trained on the roadways.
“We do have a lot of close calls. We have trucks hit, people not paying attention thinking they can just zoom by,” he said.
The crash which left Rose hospitalized, he hopes will act as a wakeup call for those types of drivers and a reminder for others.
Gianotti said state law requires drivers who are approaching HERO operators or other first responders who are working on the roadways to either move over one lane or slow down.
He said it’s also important for people to eliminate distractions, such as cell phones, while they’re behind the wheel.
That way, Gianotti says, HERO operators can focus on living up to their name—by helping those who need them.
I don’t want them looking over their shoulder, being worried. I want them concentrating on doing their job,” he said.