AUSTIN, Texas - For the past 21 years, someone has died on a Texas roadway every single day with the recent state average hitting 10 deaths per day.
"When you hear that we average 10 deaths a day on our roads for 21 years, how can you not take that personally?" said Texas Transportation Commissioner Laura Ryan.
On April 10th 2021, Officer Michael Baley with the Royse City Police Department stopped on the road to pick up some debris in front of a motorist. It was while he was doing that when he heard what every police officer is afraid of hearing when working on the highway.
"I hear tire screeching. I look up and I see a white SUV coming towards me in a skid and so I realized what direction they were going so I tried to get to the opposite direction and I didn't get there fast enough, so I got hit that morning just before 10am on my right leg, between my knee, hip joint, then again on my left calf. I guess I was in midair," said Officer Baley.
Based on the driver's dash cam, Officer Baley says it looks like the driver slammed on their brakes to avoid hitting the car in front of them then swerved into where he was causing the crash. Luckily, Officer Baley is alive to tell the story.
"I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Fortunately for me, I just had a bunch of soft tissue damage. It was one of those God things," he said.
He made out alive, but some are not as lucky.
"He was one of the best men I've ever known. [He] always had a smile for everybody, no matter what the situation was. He was ripped away from us violently and that’s not right," said Nathan Bryant, friend of the tow truck driver killed.
Bryant considered fellow tow truck driver Isaac Simmons a brother, a brother who was killed while on the job, working to pull a disabled vehicle in the center median with his emergency lights on.
"He was winching him back up to the road and that's when the other car hit him," said Bryant.
Bryant says this all could have been avoided if people just paid more attention. "For God's sake, that phone call and that text message ain't worth it. Literally a blink of an eye and your world can end, you could destroy somebody else's world," he said.
TxDOT is once again pushing its #EndTheStreakTX campaign to urge drivers to make the best and safest choices they can while behind the wheel. According to TxDOT, #EndTheStreakTX is a social media, grassroots and word-of-mouth effort to raise awareness.
"Be the driver that brings your mother home, be the driver that brings your child home because that's what we need on our roads," said Ryan.