MoDOT asks drivers to pay attention after work zone death

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COLUMBIA - The Missouri Department of Transportation launched a new push Monday to remind drivers of the importance of work zone safety. This came after a car struck and killed one MODoT worker in Franklin County Thursday.

Lyndon Ebker, a 55-year-old with over 30 years of experience with MODoT, died Thursday while working on bridges on Highway 100 near New Haven. MODoT Central District Engineer David Silvester said the incident was a reminder of how dangerous work zones can be.

MODoT Director Patrick McKenna said Ebker's death was the first of a MODoT worker in a work zone since 2012. Chip Jones of Emery Sapp and Sons said although it's the first in a while, it still highlights a problem.

"An average death of one per year is one too many," Jones said.

McKenna said the department was "devastated" after losing Ebker.

"He's exactly the type of worker that we are chock full of here at MODoT. Just good, hard working people trying to do their job for the public," McKenna said of Ebker. "So anytime you lose someone like that, it's a blow. It's just like losing a family member."

The meeting kicked off National Work Zone Awareness Week. McKenna said it's clear the message of safety isn't getting through to everyone, but he said the department will do all it can to prevent further deaths.

"It's a dangerous job that we do," McKenna said. "It's a dangerous job that needs to be done. And we do our very best with protective gear, with signs, with lights, with equipment mounted on our vehicles, to ensure that our workers are protected."

McKenna said it's up to the public to maintain work zone safety, as well.

"We simply can't control the driver. We can't control the driver paying attention while they're driving. That's why we're here," he said. "Motorists must do their part. Slow down. Put the phone down. Please."

Tim Miller spoke at the meeting about his experience with a distracted driver. He was working along I-44 when a driver hit the truck he was in while searching for a water bottle.

"He had driven eight-tenths of one mile without looking in front of him at the roadway," Miller said. "Don't be a distracted driver, please."