TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The death of a Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper 27 years ago and subsequent legislation that followed that tragedy may still be saving lives today.
On Sept. 6, 1995, around 6:30 a.m. Trooper Dean Allen Goodheart was conducting a roadside inspection of a semi-truck on Interstate 70 near Colby in northwestern Kansas when an 18-year-old college student hit Trooper Goodheart, killing him immediately, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol.
The 49-year-old had been a trooper with the Kansas Highway Patrol for more than 23 years at the time.
Goodheart’s death galvanized support inside the statehouse to pass legislation that could prevent tragedies like his from happening again. During the 2000 Legislative Session, the House introduced House Bill 2641, which required drivers on interstates and multi-lane highways to move to the side when approaching stopped emergency vehicles.
Kansas Gov. Bill Graves signed “Goodheart’s Law” into effect on May 16, 2000.
Eventually, in 2006 the law was expanded to include Patrol’s Motorist Assistance Technicians and the Kansas Department of Transportation’s highway road crews.
According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, between 1995 and 1999, there were 70 crashes involving the highway patrol. In the first four years after the passage of Goodheart’s Law, that number dropped to 25.