Return to story

Cost of duty

October 10, 2012 12:10 am

WHAT MORE could have been done? Virginia State Police Trooper Andrew D. Fox was wearing his reflective safety vest. He was using a lighted baton flashlight. Overhead, traffic lights were blinking yellow, urging caution, and nearby, cruisers had their blue lights flashing. Yet the 27-year-old trooper was struck and killed by a motorist as he directed traffic outside the Virginia State Fair on Friday night. What a sad and senseless loss.

State police say that a woman driving a 1992 Jeep Cherokee drove over the young state policeman. Other troopers and bystanders lifted the vehicle off of Trooper Fox in a heroic attempt to save him. Sadly, to no avail. He died after being transported to VCU Medical Center. His was the 58th line-of-duty death in the 80-year history of the Virginia State Police.

One can only imagine the hopes and dreams that died along with Trooper Fox. There was "no finer person," said Sgt. Dirk Compton, his supervisor in Pulaski, calling him "a really diligent guy." An agricultural sciences graduate of Virginia Tech, Trooper Fox had been a police officer in his hometown, Tazewell, before joining the state police. After spending several years assigned to Northern Virginia, he and his wife were thrilled to be reassigned in May to Southwest Virginia, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. There they were living on and managing a Pulaski County farm. His temporary assignment to the state fair traffic patrol all too abruptly ended the life they were building.

"Death is always around the corner," wrote music composer Carter Burwell, "but often our society gives it inordinate help." This certainly appears to be the case in the automobile-related death of Trooper Fox. Flashing lights, reflective vests these are prompts to make us slow down, to proceed with extreme caution. Perhaps the driver did. Police are investigating.

Still, it is a warning to the rest of us: Someone's life could depend on our careful navigation, especially when people directing traffic are in the road.

Copyright 2014 The Free Lance-Star Publishing Company.