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Mother Of Last Metro Officer Killed: 'It's Only A Matter Of Time'

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Mother Of Last Metro Officer Killed: 'It's Only A Matter Of Time'

CREATED May 11, 2014
by Chris Conte

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - On July 19, 2014, the Metro Nashville Police Department would have made it 10 years without losing an officer in the line of duty but that all changed Saturday after Officer Michael Petrina was killed directing traffic on Interstate 65, near Brentwood.

Officials with the Metro Nashville Police Department said the 25-year-old was struck and killed by a motorhome, while assisting a TDOT HELP truck direct traffic around a previous wreck.

The last Metro Officer to die in the line of duty was 34-year-old Christy Jo Dedman who was also struck and killed on the side of a busy Nashville highway while helping direct traffic on July 19, 2004.

At the time, Tennessee's Move Over Law had been in place for just 17 days.

"I’m just heartsick, I really am. I'm just heartsick over this whole situation," Christy's mom Vera said by phone on Sunday afternoon.

Sadly Vera knows the kind of pain Officer Petrina's family is now going through. A grief only compounded she said by indications that the Move Over Law is largely being ignored by thousands of drivers.

Ironically, Officer Petrina was awarded the "Christy Jo Dedman Spirit Award" at his graduation from the police academy in 2013.

"I’m so thankful it’s been this long but somebody else will die, this is not going to be the last time this will happen. I hope and pray it is but these people aren’t going to pay any attention because the fine isn’t steep enough," she added.

Since her daughter's death, Vera has pushed lawmakers in Tennessee to raise the fine for not moving over or slowing down for emergency first responders. Currently the fine sits at just $500.

"Is throwing a piece of trash on the road and getting a $500 fine, how can that be equated to the $500 fine to kill somebody?" she said.

Since records started being kept in 2005, 323 first responders were hit out on the roads. According to Highway Patrol, 4,107 drivers have been ticketed for not moving over in just the last five years.

The driver of the motorhome in Saturday's crash, 71-year-old Dean Diver of Key Largo, Florida, told police he was unable to merge into the other lanes of traffic and subsequently hit Officer Petrina.

It's unclear if he will be charged.

Officer Michael Petrina's body was escorted to his family in Germantown, Tennessee on Sunday afternoon.

"Once this has sunk in and the funeral is over I think they’ll wonder about the Move Over Law too."

Email: cconte@newschannel5.com
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