MHP troopers prepare for worst after first wave of snow

'Nightmare situations' can happen quickly in poor conditions
Posted at 2:40 PM, Oct 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-11 16:40:40-04

It may be sunny now, but for Montana Highway Patrol troopers changes in the weather won't change the way they do their jobs.

Trooper Tyler DiGiovanna says situations like yesterday stir up memories of past nightmare cases and ways for troopers like him to stay safe in the elements.

"We gotta push the limit as safely as possible."

Trooper DiGiovanna has been patrolling Gallatin County for about a year and a half.

Scenes like yesterday's on I-90 come with the snow and the territory.

"We'll just say 'Hey, dispatch, where do you need us?'" DiGiovanna says. "And we're dispatched to pretty much the most serious one."

But the powder can turn a normal drive into a dangerous one quickly.

"Just one person not paying attention, going over one bridge can change, can shut down the interstate for hours."

As in a terrifying case back in 2015 near Missoula.

A semi driver lost control on icy roads, smashing through another crash.

Amazingly, even though the woman who was in a wrecked car was thrown into the median, narrowly getting missed by another out-of-control car, everyone survived.

Several troopers also experienced near-misses.

But it is a worst-case scenario that DiGiovanna says could happen again in an instant.

"Is anyone hurt out there? How quickly do we need to respond because it is dangerous, us driving in those conditions, as well,” DiGiovanna says. "I was out, investigating a crash and I've had cars sliding off the road right next to me and that's… there is so much going on at that time that you're not thinking of exactly the danger to yourself."

So while the yesterday is melting behind us, he says he and his fellow troopers are ready for the next wave.

"Crashes, they happen where the road is the worst,” DiGiovanna says. “So when people see those flashing lights, they need to slow down, recognize that something's going on up there and react appropriately."

Trooper Giovanna says if you see those flashing lights, get over as safely as possible.

He understands if you can't but if you can't, the next plan should be to not panic, slow down and stick your course, keeping aware of your surroundings.