Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Day to Remember

Caltrans 2011 Memorial Service --
Matt White's Cone is in front with orange roses
 Two highway workers are killed every day and one injured every fifteen minutes in the United States.  My stepson, Matthew White, was killed on December 14, 2007, while filling a pothole on Elk Grove Boulevard in Sacramento, California.  He left a wife and three children.  His youngest children were 8 and 10 years old when he died.

Every April Caltrans has a memorial service for fallen workers at the State Capitol.  It is a fitting tribute with an honor guard, a choir, and bagpipes.  While it is difficult for our family to attend each year, we do so to support the families of the fallen workers within the last year.  Unfortunately, every year there is at least one.  I had begun to think that 2010 would be a safe year, but last November Gary Smith was killed.  My husband, Danny, retired from Caltrans seven years ago after 35 years of service.  He had worked with Gary for a short time years ago.  Gary's wife spoke at the service today, and I don't know how she had the strength!  She is an amazing woman!  Also, a Caltrans worker spoke who had been in an accident where his coworker died.  He also did a wonderful job.

Caltrans is a family, and we all support one another.  The service is part of that.  But there is a more important reason for this annual tribute.  We MUST bring awareness to the public to use caution around our highway workers, construction workers, highway patrol officers, tow truck drivers, and emergency vehicles.

A family member told me a story today.  She had taken her car to a mechanic.  The workers were joking around about lazy Caltrans workers.  She set them straight, and then talked to the manager about Matt's death, how it had affected us, and how the employees at the mechanic shop needed to realize that this kind of attitude doesn't make the shop look very good.  If the public only knew how hard these guys really work, in all kinds of weather -- rain, snow, fog, 110 degree heat -- dodging cars moving 70 mph plus -- and sometimes coming within inches of being killed -- the attitude might be a whole lot different.

Another family member told me this week that when she sees highway workers in a restaurant, she does the same thing she does for servicemen -- she quietly buys their meal and then leaves the restaurant before they find out who paid.

As we all travel in our very busy lives, let's please remember to be aware of others around us.  These men and women who serve on our highways want to go home at the end of the day to their families.  PLEASE, PLEASE, SLOW FOR THE CONE ZONE!

Caltrans 2011 Memorial to Fallen Workers

Caltrans 2011 Memorial to Fallen Workers

Matt 7 Months Old - 1972

Matt 5 Years Old - 1977
Matt 12 Years Old - 1984

Matt 12 Years Old

Matt Christmas High School

Matt Christmas 1988

Matt and Savana 2007

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