MANCHESTER – August 9, 2018.
Manchester Police Patrolman Peter Manco was struck by a drunk driver while conducting a motor vehicle stop on Route 37 alongside Sgt. Richard Mazza, Patrolman Christian Nazario and Patrolman Gavin Reilly.
Ptl. Manco was later treated for injuries to his knees and legs. However, despite treatment and a year’s worth of rehabilitation, Ptl. Manco will never return to full duty.
August 26, 2019.
A little over one year since the incident, former Ptl. Manco sat in on a township meeting as a civilian as local officials declared August 2019 as Move Over Safety Month in Manchester Township.
New Jersey Statute 39: 4-92.2. The Move Over Law was signed into law on January 27, 2009 in an effort to raise awareness and protect law enforcement and emergency personnel on the roadway.
According to the Office of the Attorney General, the Move Over Law requires motor vehicle operators to reduce their speed and change lanes when approaching authorized vehicles displaying emergency lights.
“Such vehicles include police, fire and medical services vehicles, and also highway maintenance, tow trucks and official motorist aid vehicles displaying amber emergency lights. Where possible, drivers are required to move over to create an empty lane next to the emergency vehicle. When safely changing lanes is not possible, drivers must slow down below the posted speed limit prior to passing emergency vehicles. Drivers should also be prepared to stop, if necessary,” stated a release from the Attorney General.
Manchester Police are working hard to raise awareness of the law today, despite it being signed into law over 10 years ago. Without it, officers like Ptl. Manco are in danger each time they step out of their vehicle.
Chief Lisa Parker was present at the township meeting to discuss the law and give residents glimpse of what it means to officers on the road.
“Thank you, Mayor Palmer and members of Council, for recognizing the importance of the Move Over Law and helping to educate the public through this Proclamation,” said Chief Parker. “As we unfortunately know, both here in Manchester and throughout the state, working along the roadside is a dangerous yet necessary part of being a first responder. We urge motorists to help keep our officers safe by moving over and slowing down when they see emergency vehicles.”
Chief Parker showed the shocking dash cam footage from the August 9 incident. In the video, you can see the drunk driver’s vehicle veer out of its lane and slam into Manco and the vehicle stopped by Manchester Police. While Manco gets caught between the two vehicles, you can notice officers on the opposite side of the car being tossed into the grass.
In an audio recording of the incident, Manco can be heard saying, “I’m definitely hurt.”
“As a result of this, we did a county-wide campaign for the Move Over Law and that’s where I met Donna Setaro,” said Parker. “She has been one of the biggest proponents of trying to get the Move Over Law enacted and enforced.”
Donna Setaro is mother to fallen NJ State Trooper Marc Castellano who was killed by a passing vehicle on Route 195 in Howell Township in 2010.
Following the tragic and untimely death of her son, Setaro took it upon herself to visit municipalities and schools all over the state to educate and raise awareness for the Move Over Law.
“He [Castellano] left two children, his high school sweetheart, he got his master’s degree 19 days before [his death], and like Peter [Manco], he was a very dedicated servant to New Jersey,” said Setaro. “From that point on, I realized that there was very little education about this law…I’ve made over a thousand presentations, I’ve spoken to over 100,000 people.”
Setaro added that she was working on securing a scheduled presentation at the Manchester Township High School in the near future.
Emphasizing Setaro’s point, Chief Parker noted that when Manchester Police Department conducts Move Over campaigns, it is not necessarily about doling out tickets to drivers who don’t comply with the law, but rather informing them of what the law means.
On the one year anniversary of Manco’s incident, Manchester Police posted the following to social media: “New Jersey’s Move Over law is designed to save lives and prevent injuries. Remember, this law is in effect YEAR ROUND. So whenever you see flashing lights on the side of the road, MOVE OVER!!”