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DATE: February 3, 2003

INCIDENT TYPE: Serious Injury

LOCATION: District 3

TYPE OF WORK ACTIVITY: Litter and Debris Pick-up

THE ACCIDENT: The following is from the January 30, 2003 Sacramento Bee newspaper:

Three people were injured Wednesday when a pickup truck towing a wood chipper went out of control on Interstate 80 and struck a Caltrans truck on the shoulder of the road, the California Highway Patrol said.

CHP Sgt. Ray Meyer said the westbound pickup driven by Michael Lyons, 36, of Auburn changed lanes about 9:45 a.m. and drifted onto the shoulder at 60 to 65 mph.

It struck the rear of a State Department of Transportation pickup, which was moving slowly along the shoulder as its two occupants looked for trash and debris in drainage areas. "The pickup truck pushed the Caltrans vehicle off the shoulder and into a grassy landscape area," Meyer said.

"The pickup truck and wood chipper continued on for a couple hundred feet before overturning."

Wood chips spilled onto the roadway but did not cause lane closures, the CHP said.

The Caltrans driver, Albert Lott, 52, of Rocklin, suffered possible fractured ribs. His passenger, Gary Ray, 54, of Sacramento, complained of neck pain. Both were taken to Sutter Roseville Medical Center, where Lott was listed in serious condition. Ray was treated and released. Lyons had a scalp laceration but refused medical attention, Meyer said.

The crash is under investigation, the CHP said.

CONCLUSIONS: Fortunately, both employees were wearing their seat belts, which undoubtedly prevented more serious injuries. The bench type seat in the vehicle was equipped with a retrofit headrest, which may have helped lessen the injuries. Caltrans Equipment Operator Albert Lott, the driver of the CT vehicle, suffered four broken ribs. He has been released from the hospital and is recovering. The passenger, Caltrans Equipment Operator Gary Ray suffered bruised ribs and has returned to work. The Caltrans vehicle was a 1-ton cargo truck.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Do not let yourself become complacent while working near moving traffic, either on foot or in a vehicle. Utilize the rotator or overhead lights to warn approaching traffic. Always fasten your seat belt even if you must get in and out of the vehicle frequently, whether parked or moving slowly. Always review the appropriate portions of Chapter 8 of the Maintenance Manual, the Caltrans Safety Manual and Codes of Safe Operating Practices for any operation you may be performing.




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