A Maryland State Police trooper who was seriously hurt in a crash last December along I-95 is back on the job. Trooper Tristen Phillip said he is shocked he survived after his cruiser was struck by a car going full speed on the interstate.
Phillip was helping a couple whose car was stranded along the side of I-95 on New Year’s Eve. He was inside his cruiser when he was struck by another vehicle, pinning his car against the guard rail.
He was rushed to Shock Trauma in Baltimore with injuries to his neck, back and knees. Six months later, Philip returned to the job at the barracks in Jessup, while the battered cruiser sits in a side yard.
"When I first saw it, I was taken back to the original accident, and I was like, 'Wow, this is really bad.'"
Phillip said the impact of the crash destroyed the vehicle and tossed him through the car, severely injuring his ribs and back.
Phillip said he remembers little of what happened after he was hit. He remembers he was sitting in the driver's seat of his cruiser on the shoulder and heard brakes squeal.
“I heard the squealing sounds of brakes," he said. "I glanced up at my rearview mirror and that was it. I just saw white. I don’t know if it was the airbag, but I just saw white.”
The Montgomery County driver who struck him was charged with negligent driving and failing to change lanes near an emergency vehicle. He, too, was hospitalized and was ordered to pay fines, according to court records.
Despite Maryland's well publicized "move over" law, which requires drivers to shift over a lane when police are on the shoulder, these types of incidents are still happening. News4's review of state police records showed at least seven troopers or their patrol cars have been hit while on the side of the road since January, including troopers from the barracks in Rockville, College Park and Forestville..
"At first, I was in shock,” Philip said. “I don't know if it's adrenaline, but at first, you don't realize you're actually injured. But when things start to calm down, you begin to realize it"
He's since undergone physical therapy and has been placed back on light duty at the barracks, handling desk work. He said he wants to be back on the road soon.
Phillip has served as a Maryland state trooper for three years, including at the agency’s Forestville barracks.