Personal Injury Blog

Two Off-Duty Law Enforcement Officers Struck & Killed on I-270 Due to Possible Violation of 'Move Over' Law


In December, 2017 Sander B. Cohen, 33, a deputy chief state fire marshal and a lieutenant with the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department, and Carlos Wolff, 36, a supervisory special agent in the District office of the FBI, were struck and killed on I-270. They were struck by a vehicle as they stood on the southbound shoulder of I-270. They were waiting for help, as Wolff’s car had hit the median and was disabled. Cohen, seeing Wolff’s disabled vehicle, had pulled over to assist him and to block Wolff’s damaged vehicle. They were standing on the shoulder of the road when they were struck by a southbound vehicle.

The other driver, identified as 28 year-old Roberto A. Garza Palacios, apparently swerved to avoid hitting the stopped vehicles, and then struck the men. However, it remains unclear of what exactly caused the deadly collision. Maryland law requires drivers to ‘move over’ into a lane that is not right next to where a law enforcement or emergency vehicle is stopped on the road. In the tragic case noted above, Cohen, who pulled in behind Wolff’s disabled vehicle, did put his emergency lights on. Thus, any driver approaching where the men were stopped, should have moved into a lane not immediately adjacent to Cohen’s vehicle. If it was not safe to change lanes, the law requires drivers to ‘slow to a reasonable and prudent speed that is safe for existing weather, road, and vehicular or pedestrian traffic conditions.’

A point to take away from this tragedy is that whenever you see an emergency or police vehicle on the road, please try and abide by the above principle- pull into another lane if it is safe to do so, and if it is not safe to change lanes, slow down to a safe speed. Doing such could quite literally save a life.