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'It could have been an awful lot worse,' says first responder hit by suspected DUI driver

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The first responder hit by a suspected drunk driver on Thanksgiving night was back on the job Monday. (Photo: Jim Spiewak / KUTV)

The first responder hit by a suspected drunk driver on Thanksgiving night was back on the job Monday.

Alan Peterson was one of at least 10 first responders who were hit or had their vehicles smashed during the historically bad Thanksgiving break.

As an incident management lead for the Utah Department of Transportation, Peterson spends his entire work day next to speeding cars. But on Thanksgiving night, he was less than 10 minutes from home when he was hit on state Route 201 near 5000 West.

“We're always watching to make sure that hopefully everybody will move over for us,” Peterson said.

Peterson says he was driving 64 mph in the 65 mph zone, and guesses the suspected drunk driver hit him at more than 60 miles an hour. The accident damaged his truck, and Peterson says he fractured his right shoulder and a portion of his back.

"My truck was the one that was sacrificed that night, but I would rather my truck be hit than another vehicle with a family in it," Peterson said.

Peterson was immediately taken to the hospital while troopers did a field sobriety test on the driver and then cuffed him and took him to jail.

“It could have been an awful lot worse,” Peterson said.

Bad weather conditions, distracted drivers, and impaired drivers are three reasons Peterson says first responders must be given the respect and room they need to work.

"We would ask that you drive like you want to go home, just like we want to go home," he said.

Peterson has been an incident management driver for 19 years. This is the second time he's been hit. The first time, he was not in the truck when it was hit. He's on light duty for now before returning to the streets.