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Firefighter’s death prompts stronger highway safety legislation

Last October, Lt. Bradford Clark, a Hanover County firefighter, was killed when a tractor-trailer failed to “move over” as mandated by Virginia law. Now, the General Assembly plans to memorialize Clark through a specialty license plate and strengthen the state’s “move over” law.

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By Benjamin West

In October, Lt. Bradford Clark, a Hanover County firefighter, was killed when a tractor-trailer failed to “move over” as mandated by Virginia law. Now, the General Assembly plans to memorialize Clark through a specialty license plate and strengthen the state’s “move over” law.

As Tropical Storm Michael pummeled Virginia, Clark responded to an accident in the left lane and shoulder of Interstate 295. A tractor-trailer crashed into his fire truck, killing him.

“Public safety officers have repeatedly expressed their concerns to me of dying in the same manner my husband did,” Clark’s widow, Melanie Clark, told lawmakers as she testified in favor of legislation to strengthen the “move over” law.

“They fear they will not come home to their families because of the increased life-threatening dangers that exist while working on highways and byways.”

Enacted in 2002, the “move over” law requires motorists to change lanes for stationary vehicles with flashing emergency lights, including police, firefighters, tow trucks and Virginia Department of Transportation crews. A first offense is a traffic infraction with a fine of up to $250, and a second offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Del. Chris Peace, R-Mechanicsville, said accidents caused by drivers who fail to move over have increased recently. Speaking before the House Courts of Justice Committee, he cited a day in December, during a snowstorm, when four state troopers were rear-ended in a 24-hour period.

In honor of Clark’s memory, Peace is sponsoring HB 1911, which would strengthen the current law and make the first offense a Class 1 misdemeanor rather than a simple traffic infraction. The bill passed committee Monday and is on track to be approved by the full Senate before the end of the 2019 session.
Clark called her husband’s death entirely “avoidable” and “untimely.” She said her husband was aware of the danger and gave his life to warn the other three firefighters on the scene.

“With little time and a tractor-trailer barreling down on them, Brad warned his crew of the oncoming danger,” she said. “His actions saved their lives and cost him his own.”

To further honor Clark’s legacy and bring attention to his death, the Senate passed a bill Monday designating a new specialty license plate inscribed “MOVE OVER” and bearing a picture of Clark. That legislation, HB 2011, also was sponsored by Peace.

“Brad was a dedicated public servant and family man,” the Clark family wrote in a statement shortly after his death. “We delight in the joyous years we spent with Brad and the time we had to know the hero that he was, long before he laid down his life so that others may live.”

Most of the plate’s annual $25 fee will go to the Fredericks Family Fund Foundation, which has pledged to use the money to “honor and help take care of” Clark’s widow and four daughters, according to organizers.

By Jan. 31, 515 paid registrations were collected, surpassing the 450 needed for the initial legislative vote and to print the plates. For the foundation to financially benefit, at least 1,000 registrations are needed.

To order a Lt. Bradford Clark Memorial Plate, visit http://bit.ly/clark-plates.

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The Capital News Service is a flagship program of VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. In the program, journalism students cover news in Richmond and across Virginia and distribute their stories, photos, and other content to more than 100 newspapers, television and radio stations, and news websites.

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Photos: Faces of a Parade

We took some traditional parade photos but have decided to go a little more intimate and focus on the faces you see during the Dominion Christmas Parade.

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Downtown

Virginia launches expanded rail service from Richmond to Washington and New York City

The Amtrak Northeast Regional Route 51 now offers early morning service from Main Street Station, getting travelers from Downtown Richmond to Washington when the workday begins or to New York for a lunchtime meeting.

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Recently, Governor Ralph Northam and Secretary Valentine joined DRPT and the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VPRA) to launch expanded rail service from Richmond to Washington and cities along the Northeast corridor. The Amtrak Northeast Regional Route 51 now offers early morning service from Main Street Station, getting travelers from Downtown Richmond to Washington when the workday begins or to New York for a lunchtime meeting.

The new train is the first expansion of service under Governor Northam’s Transforming Rail in Virginia program to significantly expand rail infrastructure throughout the Commonwealth. The event ended with a ribbon-cutting and the inaugural train heading out of Main Street Station at 5:35 am with the Governor, state officials, and DRPT/VPRA staff on board. Early ridership numbers indicate healthy demand for the extended service.

The Transforming Rail in Virginia initiative is already receiving recognition throughout the country for its role in changing the future of transportation. At the District of Columbia’s Committee of 100’s bi-annual award ceremony, DRPT received a 2021 Vision Award recognizing the Transforming Rail in Virginia Program. Director Jennifer Mitchell accepted the award on behalf of DRPT, Governor Northam, and the Virginia General Assembly.

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Community

Shockoe Illuminates Throws the Switch Tonight

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Shockoe Illuminates will be Dec. 3rd at the 17th Street Market. They’ll have local artisans with one-of-a-kind presents, boozy hot drinks provided by amazing restaurants, kids activities, carolers, roller skating, and more! Loads of information at the 17th Street Market Facebook.

 

Did you catch that there is roller skating?

We don’t need ice to have fun and skate! During Shockoe Illuminates on Dec. 3rd you can roller skate and then come back all weekend for more fun! $10 to rent skates or bring your own.
  • 12/3 5:00-9:00
  • 12/4 4:00-8:00
  • 12/5 3:00-7:00

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