REMEMBERING FALLEN CALTRANS EMPLOYEES
District 7 Honors Highway Worker Memorial Day
District 7 honored Caltrans employees who lost their lives while working on our highways at the Annual Highway Worker Memorial Day on April 15. For the second year, the event was held at the Los Angeles Dodger Stadium overlooking the downtown skyline.
In his address, District 7 Director Doug Failing said, “In the last 84 years, Caltrans and its predecessors have lost 170 employees while on the job. In District 7 alone, we have lost 32 valuable and distinguished employees. These employees were from maintenance, engineering and surveys. In 2007, Caltrans lost three dedicated employees in a span of three months.”
Those in attendance included the family members and friends of three District 7 employees, Raul Arismendez, Juan Thome and David Guillen, who lost their lives in the line of duty. The event brought a very large contingent of Maintenance personnel to remember their fellow friends and co-workers.
Not only Caltrans workers are killed in highway work zones. “Over the last 10 years the number of persons killed in highway work zones increased 45 percent,” said Dan Freeman, District 7 Deputy Director for Maintenance. “Nationally, 1,000 men, women and children die each year and more than 40,000 are injured.”
According to statistics kept by the Federal Highway Administration this equates to three work zone fatalities every day and one work zone injury every nine minutes.
Other speakers included California Highway Patrol (CHP) Assistant Chief Craig Klein; KCBS Channel 2 traffic reporter Vera Jimenez; the Professional Engineers in California Government (PECG) was represented by Joya Gilster-Nava; and George Swift, Director Unit 12, of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE).
A number of broadcast media stations covered the event. The message from many of the speakers included the need for highway motorists to reduce speed in construction zones; the number of lives lost annually from construction zone accidents; the continued safety partnership with CHP and the "Slow for the Cone Zone" public awareness campaign which has garnered a decrease in highway work zone accidents.
The following are the names of the 32 District 7 employees who have lost their lives in the line of duty:
Callie Buser, Jr.