Three people, including two Pennsylvania state troopers, were killed early Monday when a car slammed into them on an interstate in south Philadelphia, officials said.
Troopers Martin F. Mack III and Branden T. Sisca and an unidentified man were hit around 12:40 a.m. on Interstate 95 South, the Pennsylvania State Police said.
The troopers were trying to get the man, who was walking on I-95, into their patrol SUV, according to the agency. A driver they had pulled over earlier attempted to use the shoulder of the highway to get around the scene and struck all three of them, NBC Philadelphia reported.
“The impact was so great that it threw the troopers over into the northbound lanes of Interstate 95,” state police Capt. James B. Kemm said at a news conference hours after the crash.
When authorities got to the scene, witnesses were performing CPR on the victims on the side of the road, he said. The victims were pronounced dead on the scene.
The name of the man they were assisting was not released because his relatives had not been notified of his death.
The driver of the car that hit them had been stopped on suspicion of DUI by the same troopers when they got the call about the man on the highway and had to leave her, law enforcement sources said, according to the news station.
"We are conducting an active investigation that's DUI related," Kemm said, without elaborating.
After hitting the troopers and the man, the vehicle struck the jersey barrier, continued a short distance along I-95 and ended up on the right shoulder, according to the captain. It was not clear if the driver was in custody in connection with the crash or the alleged DUI stop.
“Troopers Mack and Sisca made the ultimate sacrifice this morning while assisting a citizen in need,” Col. Robert Evanchick, the state police commissioner, said during the news conference. “These troopers personified our department’s core values of honor, service, integrity, respect, trust, courage and duty.
“These values were exemplified this morning as they braved traffic along the busy interstate to assist the citizen whose own life was in danger as he attempted to walk along the interstate roadway at night. There's no greater act of selflessness.”
Mack, 33, enlisted in the state police department in 2014, graduating from the academy the following year, according to Evanchick. Sisca, 29, recently graduated from the academy after his enlistment in February 2021.
“They both had bright careers ahead of them," he said. "It saddens me to know how their lives were senselessly cut short."
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, who appeared at the news conference, ordered the commonwealth flag on all commonwealth facilities, public buildings and grounds fly at half-staff.
“The commonwealth flag shall be lowered to half-staff until sunset on Friday, March 25, 2022, as well as on the day(s) of their funerals which have not yet been announced,” state police said in a statement. “The United States flag is to remain at full-staff through this tribute.”
The governor addressed the deaths in a tweet, saying he and his wife were praying for the victims' loved ones.
"Frances and I are deeply saddened by the loss of these two troopers and the individual they were assisting," Wolf said. " ... This tragedy is a reminder that our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to protect us and our communities."
I-95, which was shut down in both directions between Broad Street and the Walt Whitman Bridge for hours, has reopened.
No other information was immediately available.