A recently sworn in Connecticut State Police trooper suffered "severe injuries" after being hit by a motor vehicle while clearing debris from Interstate 91 in Hartford, police said.
An unidentified trooper observed owner of a pickup truck attempting to remove bed liner from the northbound side of center lane near Exit 33 just before 7:30 p.m.
The trooper, who has been on force for eight months and graduated from the State Police Academy in January 2014, pulled into the left lane, according to Connecticut State Police Lt. Paul Vance.
The trooper set up cruiser to block road and began to remove bed liner from highway with the owner of the truck, Vance said.
"The trooper parked his car in the travel portion of the highway, illuminated all the emergency lights, to warn oncoming northbound traffic of his position in the roadway to slow traffic down," Vance said.
However, police said a car went around, they were struck by a motor vehicle.
"All of a sudden the traffic came to a complete halt. Then we saw at least 50 state police cruisers come and swarm the area here. Then we saw a tremendous amount of ambulances, so then we knew it was definitely something serious," eyewitness Deborah Dupont said.
The trooper suffered head injuries and multiple fractures, Vance said. He added that the male trooper was alert when transported to Hartford Hospital.
Vance said a CT Scan was performed on the trooper and was expected to be in surgery on Thursday night. The trooper is currently in "serious, but stable condition."
Eyewitness News observed a large gathering of state and local police at the emergency room at Hartford Hospital.
The truck owner was in stable condition at St Francis Hospital in Hartford. His injuries are unknown.
The highway was initially closed in both directions, but the southbound side has reopened around 8 p.m. The northbound lanes remained closed until around 11 p.m.
State police are investigating the crash, but Vance said the driver stayed on scene and is cooperating with the investigation. No charges have been filed by police.
Vance said the trooper was doing his "duty" and was "doing everything he could to clear highway."
Vance said the "first thing you do is slow down and then you move over" when you are on the highway and see police lights.
Dupont said her thoughts are with their families.
"I'm the niece of a former West Hartford police officer, so I know what your families go through when they hear something like this," Dupont said.
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