‘It takes its toll on all of us.’ Troopers reflect on dangers of job after crash leaves fellow trooper seriously injured

Updated: Jul. 23, 2019 at 5:13 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A North Carolina State Trooper is “steadily improving” after being critically injured in a motorcycle crash on Monday.

Officials say Trooper Christopher Wooten, who was on a motorcycle, was trying to stop a vehicle when he collided with a second vehicle. The first vehicle did not remain on scene.

As Trooper Wooten recovers, troopers from across the state are thinking of ways to support the trooper and his family, some troopers even traveled from hours away just to wish his family well.

According to another trooper, after any incident, troopers evaluate how dangerous their jobs really are.

“You hear that go out over the radio, it’s an immediate black flag over the department," said Trooper Ray Pierce with the NC State Highway Patrol talking about scanner traffic. “You don’t want to see anyone hurt, but when it’s one of your own, it’s a gut check and makes you think about the dangers of the job.”

Police are still looking for the car and its driver that led Trooper Wooten on a chase through Northwest Charlotte.

Through the course of the investigation, officers determined a four-door, late 1900s model Toyota Avalon driven by a black male with glasses to be a vehicle of interest. It was last seen with a temporary, paper tag and is missing its hood.

“Vehicle pursuits are always dangerous. You’re always trying to evaluate whether it’s worth chasing that violating vehicle,” said Trooper Pierce. “It’s fluid and always changing. You’re definitely multitasking, doing multiple things, all while trying to keep that driver in sight.”

Pierce said there are things that the everyday driver can do to help troopers keep the streets safe. He said the most important one is being aware of first responders on the roads.

“If you see any law enforcement vehicle with its blue lights and audible siren working, slow down yield to that that officer," said Pierce. "Whether that’s an officer, fire truck, emergency vehicle, whatever the case may be. State law requires you to pull your vehicle to the right shoulder.”

Trooper Pierce also mentioned that as Charlotte’s population continues to grow, there are more service calls for state troopers than ever. This means you’ll see more state troopers on the highway and you need to be careful while driving.

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