Caltrans District 1 Fallen Worker Memorial held in Eureka
EUREKA- Caltrans District 1 held the annual Fallen Workers Memorial on Thursday in Eureka.
Those attending the memorial observed a moment of silence for the 183 Caltrans workers who have died on the job since 1921, including the 16 killed on the North Coast. Officials placed cones for each of those fallen workers.
"It could happen to all of our employees any time of the day, so it's important to remember, to reflect, to think back on the accidents that we have had happen and just keep safety foremost in our own minds," said Weldon Hailey, the Caltrans North Area Maintenance Superintendent.
The Caltrans District 1 Director, Charles Fielder, says the best way to honor the fallen workers is to follow these steps behind the wheel.
"When you get behind the wheel of that car, it's very important to be paying attention, that you're not distracted, put that cell phone away, you can get that call later. And by all means, don't drink and drive and to share that message with your family members, your friends," said Fielder.
Fielder also says to obey the “move over law.”
"When you see a Caltrans worker with flashing lights working on the shoulder of the road or a California Highway Patrol officer with their lights on, the law requires you to move over one lane if it's safe to do so, if not, to slow down as you're passing by those workers," Fielder said.
Edward Holgersen was among the speakers at the ceremony. He was working as a Caltrans Operator in a work zone in McKinleyville in October of 2013, when he was struck by a driver who was not paying attention, causing major injuries. Holgersen says he was worried about getting hurt or killed before the accident.
"I would always see people, especially in our safety zone, texting and driving and not paying attention, people eating, playing with their radios and cell phones during that time. And I'd get very nervous when I was out because people don't seem to slow down and pay attention," said Holgersen.
Now, Holgersen wants drivers to be alert, so no other road workers have to experience what he went through and no more cones are added at next year’s memorial.
The statewide Highway Workers Memorial will be held next Thursday in Sacramento.