Inside Seven
Current Issue: September 2014
Dan Freeman, Deputy District Director for Maintenance, addresses hundreds observing Highway Worker Memorial Day, including scores of Maintenance Workers who assisted with the memorable ceremony.

by  Jeanne Bonfilio
Issue Date: 05/2007

Employees who have died in the line of duty are remembered at a special ceremony at Dodger Stadium

All across the state, Caltrans observed Highway Worker Memorial Day ceremonies during the week of April 16 to remember and honor fellow employees who have lost their lives while on the job.  Since 1924, 166 Caltrans workers have died in the line of duty.  Most of these workers were struck while on the job by reckless or inattentive drivers traveling through work zones.

District 7’s observance was held this year at Dodger Stadium in a large parking lot overlooking Downtown Los Angeles and the Pasadena (I-110) Freeway.  Many employees were able to attend.  In addition, family members and friends of workers who gave the ultimate sacrifice were present to remember their loved ones. 

The event featured a dramatic display of 166 Caltrans trucks bearing the names of each of the Caltrans highway workers killed while in the line of duty since 1924, when the Department began keeping such records – as well as a photo display of accidents involving highway workers.  Maintenance Workers of every classification and from all regions of District 7, transported trucks and other heavy-equipment vehicles to show their support and offer assistance in many ways to help make the event memorable.  All of the fallen workers were friends, co-workers and some even family members of Caltrans employees.

Doug Failing, District 7 Director and Dan Freeman, Deputy District Director for Maintenance, were joined by members of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and traffic reporters to pay their respects and to help spread the message to SLOW FOR THE CONE ZONE to help save lives. 

“Today, we honor the 166 Caltrans employees who have made the greatest sacrifice of all, and we recognize the deep loss that their families and friends have endured,” said Failing.  “To their families and friends, we offer our deepest sympathy.”

Speaking on behalf of the CHP was Chief Gary Dominguez who offered support, condolences and continued teamwork.  Also in attendance were CHP Assistant Chief Stephen Webb; CHP Officer Bill Preciado; traffic reporters Vera Jimenez from KCBS Channel 2 and Commander Chuck Street from KIIS-FM radio and KTLA Channel 5; transportation writer and author Dr. Dave Rizzo, also known as “Dr. Roadmap,” and many others.

Failing also reminded attendees of the hazards faced by highway workers.  “Today’s memorial ceremony is a sober reminder of the dangers of the work we at Caltrans do every day, 365 days a year,” added Failing.  “We are asking the media to please remind the public through daily traffic reports to SLOW FOR THE CONE ZONE.  Because together we can do more to save lives.  Please help us to never add one more name to this somber list.”

Since 1999 Caltrans has been asking California drivers to SLOW FOR THE CONE ZONE and when they see the orange safety cones to take caution and slow down a bit, merge early, be prepared for sudden stops and avoid distractions such as using a cell phone or changing the radio station.  Recent statistics show that drivers are listening to the message, and slowing down when they approach a work zone.  Studies show that in areas where the SLOW FOR THE CONE ZONE campaign has run, accident rates in work zones involving motorists have dropped.

“The good news is that there has been no loss of life of Caltrans workers in the past twelve months,” said Dan Freeman, Caltrans Deputy District Director for Maintenance.  “This is the first memorial ceremony in the past four years where we do not have to add a new name to the roster of those who have been killed while on the job.” 

Vera Jimenez thanked Caltrans workers for their efforts in keeping drivers safe.  And Chuck Street offered his continued gratitude and appreciation to Caltrans.  Both Jimenez and Street took time to speak with family members of the fallen workers to offer their support and condolences, as well as greet Caltrans workers. 

Caltrans thanks everyone who helped make this moving ceremony possible and memorable – and expresses its sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives in the line of duty.  May they never be forgotten. 

Equipment Operator Strater Rolling (at podium), helps read the names of the Caltrans workers killed in the line of duty.  Joining him, left to right: Chuck Street, traffic reporter, KIIS-FM and KTLA; Vera Jimenez, traffic reporter, KCBS; Doug Failing, District Director; Dan Freeman, Deputy for Maintenance; Chief Gary Dominguez, CHP; and Officer Bill Preciado, CHP. Hundreds of Maintenance Workers from all regions of District 7, drove in Caltrans trucks, each bearing a name of one the 166 workers who made the ultimate sacrifice.  District Director Doug Failing (center at podium) addresses Caltrans employees, families of workers killed in the line of duty, and guests -- with many members of the media covering the somber event. The Caltrans SLOW FOR THE CONE ZONE MESSAGE helps save lives!