Oklahoma law aims to expedite process of investigating, cleaning up deadly crashes

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — A new Oklahoma law aims to expedite the process of investigating and cleaning up deadly crash scenes.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said medical examiners won’t have to drive out to crash scenes.

Troopers with OHP said the bill will help crash scenes get cleaned up faster and they’re also calling it an act of compassion for the families of the crash victims.

“To have that human compassion to be able to clean those scenes up quickly,” said Trooper Eric Foster with OHP.

Foster said that one of the big ideas behind Senate Bill 1123 was signed into law. It lets EMS staff transport fatal crash victims to the hospital, instead of waiting for a medical examiner to show up.

“I know as a trooper working in these rural areas, it takes time on a fatal crash for the medical examiner to get out there,” Foster said.

Sometimes, it can take hours for a medical examiner to arrive. The new law allows OHP to authorize the transportation of the victim’s body.

“A lot of these state highways are far away from the medical examiner’s office in OKC,” Foster said.

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It could be hours where the body is sitting in the roadway and troopers have traffic stopped.

“That’s true but that doesn’t always mean they were there fighting for their life for hours, that just means they were there and couldn’t be released,” Foster said.

Foster said law enforcement agencies are the ones who gather the evidence and facts of the case before the medical examiner is allowed to take the victim away. It makes sense for them to pass those details along later so the victim can be transported.

“If a law enforcement agency is able to collect those facts, collect that data, and be the expert on the scene,” Foster said.

The new law could minimize harm when a bad crash happens.

“Obviously these are sensitive things that happen, and the whole community knows the person, or if they’re involved in the community these people know them,” Foster said.

The law was signed by the governor a week ago.