In 2000, House Bill 2641 was signed into law requiring drivers to slow down and move over near stopped emergency vehicles. This bill is known by many as the “Goodheart Law.” This law has proven to reduce the number of emergency vehicles and officers being struck while stopped on the side of the road. I would like to tell you why this law is important to not only me, but to all loved ones of law enforcement, emergency and roadside workers.
My husband, Dean Goodheart, served the citizens of Kansas as a Highway Patrolman for 23 years. In choosing this profession, he was well aware of the dangers but loved to help people. In 1995, after 23 years of service, my husband and I were looking forward to his approaching retirement. Our retirement plans included travel and spending time with our family.
However, one early morning in September of 1995, life changed. That morning, my husband was headed to do Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) inspections out of town for the Kansas Highway Patrol. On his way east on I-70 he observed a semi and decided to stop behind the vehicle, turn on his emergency lights and perform a roadside safety inspection on the semi. During the inspection he stepped down from the driver’s door of the semi cab when he was struck and killed by a passing motorist.
The driver had been driving all night to return to college. This crash could have been prevented had the driver slowed down and moved to the far lane and away from the emergency lights. It is a known fact that sleepy drivers are as dangerous as drunk drivers. The “Move Over” Law had not been in force at that time.
This one moment in time caused my family’s life to change forever. I lost my husband and best friend of 15 years. My children and grandchildren lost a great father, grandfather and mentor. Two grandchildren and all three of our great grand-children never had the chance to meet their Granddad. He is missed by family, friends and co-workers and at all functions in our life such as graduations, weddings, holidays and school activities. He was 49 years of age at the time of his death.
Please give the officers room to work so they may go home to their families at the end of their shift!
Marilyn Goodheart is Past President of Kansas Concerns of Police Survivors