A Whitfield County deputy faces weeks of recovery after suffering injuries when he was hit by a vehicle while directing traffic during the start of the school day on Tuesday at Westside Middle School.
Deputy Michael Dial, who is the school's resource officer, suffered a broken fibula and a broken rib, according to Sheriff Scott Chitwood. The Georgia State Patrol is investigating.
Dial was taken to Chattanooga’s Erlanger hospital for treatment.
“Overall, he is doing fine and we are hopeful that he will make a full recovery,” Chitwood said Tuesday afternoon. “They are still checking to make sure he doesn’t have any other internal injuries.”
According to the county’s 911 center, the call reporting the incident came in at 7:50 a.m. shortly before the start of classes at the school as students were being dropped off from buses and the car-rider line.
Georgia State Patrol Sgt. Clay Buckner said the person driving the vehicle that struck the deputy was given a citation for failure to obey an authorized person directing traffic. Buckner said other details will be released when the official report is completed.
Dial filled in at times last year at the school and is in his first year full time in the school system after working with the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office since 2005. As one of six school resource officers in the Whitfield County Schools system, Dial is based at Westside Middle and also provides coverage at Westside Elementary and Tunnel Hill Elementary.
“He is a terrific person and has quickly become an important part of our Westside community,” Principal Angela Hargis said. “Officer Dial is a seasoned officer and brings a positive sense of safety to our schools. Our parents, students and staff send well wishes for a complete recovery.
“Hopefully this will be a reminder for everyone to slow down and use caution in our school zones,” Hargis said.
Chitwood said traffic control is one of Dial’s duties at the school, and said he was following all department protocols at the time he was struck. Dial was wearing a visibility vest, his patrol car was on the side of the road with its blue lights flashing and he was “doing everything properly,” Chitwood said.
“All public safety agencies have preached it to slow down in school zones,” Chitwood said. “Most every citizen knows where the schools are at, so people just need to pay attention and slow down.”