‘We leave a part of ourselves with that family’: Trooper details stress of death notifications, urges safe driving

The Tennessee Highway Patrol is warning travelers to drive safely this Thanksgiving holiday to prevent injuries and deaths

By Ashley Silver

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — With a portion of the state on track to have the deadliest year on the roads since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the Tennessee Highway Patrol is urging holiday travelers to focus and be vigilant while driving.

Lt. Bill Miller, a public information officer for the Tennessee Highway Patrol, spoke to News Channel 5 Nashville about one of the worse things officers experience when dealing with holiday driving incidents: notifying family members of victims’ deaths.

Miller refers to it as “the walk.”

"I can’t really even begin to describe it to you — when you’re walking that sidewalk to the front door," Miller told News Channel 5. "Your feet get heavier. Your steps are harder to take, it’s like you’re walking in concrete. When you try to raise your hand and knock on the door, it’s like you’re pulling the weight of the world up from your side to reach up and knock on the door. And when we do it, we leave a part of ourselves with that family.”

Troopers and other LEOs in Tennessee have made that walk 1,159 times this year, according to the report.

During the interview, Miller recalled details from one particular crash that stills play in his mind 24 years later: "She ran off the road, jumped a guard rail and went airborne into the trees. That’s stuck with me forever."

Miller says troopers strive each day to make roads safer for drivers during the holiday season and throughout the year: "To prevent having to feel an experience and share in that ungodly moment that we find ourselves in too many times.”

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