Transportation Workers Killed on Job

15 Dec, 2021 Liz Carey


Artesia, NM ( – Four transportation workers are dead, and several others have been injured in separate accidents across the country. 

In Artesia, NM, a New Mexico Department of Transportation worker died on Dec. 6 after a truck crashed into her DOT vehicle on Highway 285. 

Officials said Mittie Runyan, 58, was on one of two crews working on the right lane of the road installing reflectors. Both crews had their trucks’ flashers on. According to police reports, Runyan was in a DOT truck when a semi-tractor trailer rear-ended her, pushing her truck into a second NMDOT truck in front of her. 

Two other NMDOT employees outside of the second truck were able to jump into the bed of that truck to escape the crash. Both of them were taken to area hospitals. Runyan was airlifted to a Lubbock hospital where she died of her injuries. 

Police said they will be investigating the crash and pursuing charges against the semi-truck driver. A New Mexico law requires driver to move over a lane when NMDOT or first responders are working on a highway, with a $117 fine for failing to move over. 

On Dec. 6, in Buncombe County, N.C., one man is dead after a crash near Woodfin, NC, took his life. 

According to police, Dario Caravajal Dominguez, 50, of Candler, was working on future Interstate 26 west between exit 25 and exit 24 around 11:46 p.m. when the fatal accident occurred. Police said the crash was under investigation and would not give details on what happened. 

Authorities arrested Caleb Luke Grindstaff, 30, of Bakersville, and charged him with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, Woodfin police said. Grindstaff was taken to the Buncombe County Detention Center where he was held under a $5,000 secured bond. 

And in Mehlville, Mo., two Missouri Department of Transportation workers were killed and another was injured in November after a car crashed into them on the ramp they were performing repairs on. 

Missouri State Highway Patrol said James Brooks, Kaitlyn Anderson and another worker were restriping Telegraph Road on the ramp to Interstate 255 around 11:30 a.m. when they were hit by a car. 

Brooks, 58, a senior maintenance worker, and Anderson, 25, an intermediate maintenance worker, were killed at the scene. Anderson, officials said, was five months pregnant. Another worker was transported to a nearby hospital and treated for his injuries. 

"Our hearts are breaking and our sympathies go out to all the families of our employees," Tom Blair, a MoDOT St. Louis engineer, said in the statement. "These are our friends and coworkers and their presence will be sorely missed by us." 

Investigators said that while the three workers were behind cones serving as a barrier to protect them, the driver, identified as Stan McFadden, 52, of Hillsboro, Missouri, drove through the cones and hit the three workers. 

"It's scary to think these MoDOT workers are out here doing their job like any other normal day with no idea something like this would happen," Cpl. Dallas Thompson with the Missouri State Highway Patrol said. "At this point in time we can't speculate on what caused it as far as speed or what not." 

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2003 and 2019, more than 2,100 road construction workers lost their lives at road construction sites. The average number of fatal work-related injuries at road construction sites is about 124 per year, the bureau said. Texas ranks as the state with the highest number of road construction worker deaths at 218, while Florida comes in second with 132. Pennsylvania, at 91; Illinois, at 83; California, at 76; and Tennessee, at 70, round out the top six states for high road construction worker deaths. 

Between 2011 and 2017, BLS statistics show that more than three quarters of the roadway work zone fatalities are transportation events. The bureau found that 60 percent of those were a worker being struck by a vehicle. In 345 incidents where the direction of travel for the vehicle was recorded, only 89 vehicles were backing up. Pickup trucks and SUVs accounted for 151 worker deaths at road construction sites during that time period, with machinery accounting for 131 of them and automobiles accounting for 129 of them.

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    About The Author

    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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