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State trooper narrowly escapes injury when driver sideswipes cruiser in Guilford

GUILFORD -- There wasn't much time to react for Connecticut state trooper Joseph O'Connell.

"There`s no really time to think because the speed of which the vehicle was approaching."

Around 9:20 p.m. Saturday, O'Connell and other state troopers were assisting a broken down bus on the northbound side of I-95 in Guilford.

It was at this time O'Connell realized this routine traffic stop would become something more.

"I observed a vehicle approaching the rear of my vehicle at a high rate of speed."

Behind the wheel of that vehicle was Genaro Claussels, 48, of Hamden according to officials. Officers say Claussels was driving drunk at the time. According to police, he swerved to the left of the cruiser and smashed the driver's side door, narrowly missing O'Connell. Police said he continued down the shoulder, knocking down some triangular signs before he stopped right behind another state trooper. He was charged with driving under the influence, evading and failure to observe Connecticut's move over law.

"Any operator on a highway sees emergency lights ahead they [must] slow down," says O'Connell.

The move over law went into effect in Connecticut on October 1st, 2009. It's meant to protect emergency vehicles and its operators when they're stopped on the side of the road.

Drivers need to slow down and if possible, move over one lane away from the emergency lights.

Trooper O'Connell says any driver who fails to obey these rules will get a $181 ticket.