Caltrans honors 174 on-the-job fallen workers

Today, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) remembered 174 employees who were killed on the job, including two who died this past year.

Donald Lichliter, a tree maintenance worker for more than 27 years, was struck by a car and killed in Lodi in July 2009, and Deborah Ross, a tollbooth operator for the past nine years, was killed in Richmond in August 2009.

There were 121 family members at the Caltrans memorial, which featured 174 orange safety cones arranged in the shape of a diamond caution sign.

“Today, we mourn the avoidable loss of life of the brave men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice,” said Caltrans Chief Deputy Director Cindy McKim in a press statement.

Caltrans also recognized its partners whose workers are also at risk. Attending the memorial were city of Sacramento representatives who continue to grieve the loss of Tony Pontliana, who was hit by a motorist in a work zone in 2004. After spending more than two years in a coma, he died in 2006.

Today’s event showcased the National Work Zone Memorial Wall that features the names of all highway workers who have lost their lives in work zones across the nation.

Caltrans also displayed a piece of innovative new safety equipment designed to save lives – the Python 5000, a self-propelled, patching machine that allows the operator to fill potholes from the safety of the cab, shielding him or her from direct contact with oncoming vehicles.