Caltrans workers who have been killed in the line of duty honored in memorial ceremony
They’re a familiar sight repairing our highways, but it’s a dangerous job.
The names of those Caltrans workers who have lost their lives while working on freeways and highways were read aloud at the Memorial Service in Camarillo on Thursday.
Highway construction and maintenance work is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States.
Since 1921, 191 employees statewide have lost their lives. 37 of those killed worked in District 7, which covers Ventura and Los Angeles counties and eight were killed in District 5, which covers Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.
Christine Thome knows all too well what it’s like to lose a loved one. She lost her husband Juan when he was killed by a truck driver while checking on a Caltrans landscape crew. Three decades later, the grief is still raw.
"His anniversary was April 28, 1993. It's been 30 years. Wow," said Thome.
"They're hard-working males, females - they work hard to take care of all of us on the Highways, as my husband did," she told me through tears.
Many workers here have stories to share about times they narrowly escaped being a name on the list of deceased.
Like Bryant Carter. He was driving a slow Caltrans vehicle at 7mph on the freeway when he was hit by a driver going at 73mph. He was hospitalized and underwent back surgery.
Carter says he feels lucky to be alive after losing two liters of blood and having complications in the surgery.
"I vowed and prayed to God that I'd make it back here," Carter told me. "I missed the guys, I didn't want to go out like that."
The Caltrans Acting District 7 Director Gloria Roberts appealed to drivers to exercise caution while driving through highway work zones.
"When they see the cones, just slow down and don't text and drive, don't drive distracted and just slow down," she said.
A memorial ceremony was also held in San Luis Obispo for District 5 workers.