OHP Trooper Saves Construction Workers From Suspected Drunk Driver

Tuesday, January 4th 2011, 11:46 am
By: News 9

Adrianna Iwasinski & Rusty Surette, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- An Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper is being hailed a hero after he crashed his vehicle into another to knock it out of a construction zone and away from workers.

"I just happen to look up in my rear view mirror, and I saw headlights on the wrong side of the cones coming right at me," said OHP Trooper Patrick Venable.

The 26-year-old patrolman was providing traffic control for construction workers early Tuesday on I-44 near the Belle Isle bridge when he noticed Isaac Siems, 21, driving his truck inside the construction cones.

"I thought it was just another one of the construction trucks until the truck got closer and closer and I realized he wasn't going to move out of the way," said Trooper Venable. "The first thing that popped into my head is I've got to save this construction crew."

Venable acted quickly, hitting Siems' truck and spinning it out just 30 or 40 feet away from the construction workers.

The suspected drunk driver was reportedly already injured after he allegedly got into a fight at a bar earlier in the night. No one else was injured during the incident on I-44.

"When I opened the door I immediately detected the odor of alcohol. He also had the deer in headlights look which is common with a person who is highly intoxicated," said Trooper Venable, who has worked at OHP for four years. "Even after I told him what he did I still don't think at that point he understood what the full extent of his actions were."

Siems faces several charges including failure to stop, obstructing an officer, and DUI.

ODOT hires and pays state troopers to run surveillance and security on some of their job sites to help protect their workers and the driving public around those dangerous highway construction zones.

According to the latest ODOT records, 17 people were killed in Oklahoma highway work zones in 2009 and hundreds have been injured. Now, ODOT is reassured that hiring troopers to help protect their crews from harm is the right move.

"We take a lot of safety precautions to keep our contractors and the workers safe," said Terri Angier, spokesperson for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

Angier said ODOT can't thank Trooper Venable enough and they are so thankful the works are safe.

Many are calling Trooper Venable a hero for what he did. The humble trooper said he's not a hero, he was just doing his job.

"I didn't do anything out of the ordinary. We are trained when something happens you act immediately and when this happened it all went back to my training. I knew what I had to do to end what could have been a really bad scene at the end," said Trooper Venable.