MADISON COUNTY, N.C. --
A North Carolina state trooper was hit by a car during a traffic stop in Madison County late Tuesday afternoon.
A spokesman for the North Carolina Highway Patrol says the incident happened on Highway 19, near Crooked Creek Road, shortly before 5 p.m.
Investigators say Trooper Matt Mitchell, 27, was conducting a traffic enforcement operation in a construction zone on Highway 19.
"His job was to ensure that people drove safely through the area," said F/Sgt. Pat Staggs.
According to Staggs, Mitchell pulled over Amanda Rose Smith when an eastbound vehicle ran off the right side of the road. The SUV, driven by Lorretta Rice Marcum of Mars Hill, hit Mitchell and Smith’s car.
Mitchell was taken to Mission Hospital in Asheville where a spokesperson said he was in critical condition.
Marcum was taken to the hospital for observation and Smith was not injured.
"Every member of law enforcement understands and their families also understand the dangers out there, but it doesn't make it any easier when these things happen," says Stagg.
Mitchell has been with the NC Highway Patrol for four years. Stagg says is assigned to the Burnsville District Office, which covers about six counties in western North Carolina.
His family released the following statement Wednesday:
"The family of Trooper Mitchell thanks everyone for their continued prayers and support. We ask that our privacy be respected during this time, and that everyone continue to pray for Matt."
NC Highway Patrol continues to investigate the accident.
No charges have been filed at this point. Stagg says its unknown if the driver that struck Mitchell violated the state's "Move Over" law which carries stiffer penalities.
The law requires motorists to either slow down or move to the far lane when passing police,
emergency workers, construction and utility crews working on the side of the road.