HALIFAX – The widow of a Mountie who was struck by a van while helping motorists change a flat tire wants to see a broadening of Nova Scotia’s so-called move-over law.
“I actually think that the law should be extended to anybody who is pulled over to the side of the road, whether there is emergency lights flashing or four ways,” Savannah Deschenes said Tuesday at the Nova Scotia legislature.
Her husband, Nova Scotia RCMP Const. Frank Deschenes, was assisting two people in an SUV when a cargo van plowed into his cruiser and the SUV on Sept. 12 in Memramcook, N.B.
Savannah Deschenes said Tuesday that widening protections would create public awareness of a 2010 law that currently requires drivers to slow down and move into another lane when they approach emergency vehicles stopped at the side of the road.
“It’s important to me because my husband was killed in an accident on duty,” Deschenes told reporters. “He had his emergency lights activated and he was still struck. It’s time that everyone become aware of it (the law) and care.”
The Progressive Conservatives introduced amendments that would place signage highlighting the law on all 100-series highways and would rename the law as Frankie’s Law in honour of the late officer from Amherst, N.S.
The NDP had previously introduced a bill that would reduce a vehicle’s speed to no more than 60 kilometres per hour when passing a tow truck stopped at the scene of a fire or an accident and exhibiting a flashing light.
Premier Stephen McNeil said the government would look at all of the proposed changes.
“We will take all of the suggestions that are brought forward and combine them perhaps into a single bill,” he said.
In December, the 31-year-old Pennsylvania man who was driving the van that struck Frank Deschenes was fined $3,000 and banned from driving for two years by a Moncton, N.B., court.
Vasiliy Meshko was also placed on probation for two years after pleading guilty to driving without due care.
Savannah Deschenes displayed for reporters her husband’s dogtag and a silver bullet casing containing some of his ashes that she wears around her neck.
She said her husband, whom she married only months before his death, is “with me at all times.”
“We didn’t have the typical date nights like dinner and a movie – we would go shooting his rifles and his personal pistol. This (bullet) was just fitting because we were always at the range.”
The 35-year-old officer was known as a dedicated Mountie who worked hard to teach drivers about the need to slow down when driving past emergency vehicles.
Originally from northwest New Brunswick, Deschenes was a former member of the force’s famed Musical Ride.