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Colorado had record work zone deaths in 2017

Author: Liz Forster, The Gazette - April 10, 2018 - Updated: April 10, 2018

Leena Mather holds her 7-month-old son, Charles in 2007 at a kickoff press conference for a campaign to eliminate unsafe driving in construction and maintenance work zones. Mather’s husband, Chuck Mather was killed when a semi-truck plowed into the construction zone he was working in along I-25 near Pueblo last year. (The Gazette file photo)

COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado’s work zone fatalities last year more than doubled those in 2016 and topped the annual average for 2012 to 2016.

The 2017 death toll was 15, compared with seven in 2016 and 2015 and eight in 2014, reports the Colorado Department of Transportation.

None killed in 2017 was a CDOT worker.

The statistics serve as a sobering reminder during National Work Zone Awareness Week, April 9-13, the agency said in a news release.

CDOT already has had an employee die in a work zone this year.

On Feb. 2, Nolan Olson was filling potholes on U.S. 160 when a car hit and fatally wounded him. The maintenance operator, who was working in Pagosa Springs, was taken to a Denver-area hospital but succumbed to his injuries Feb. 11.

“Our workers are trained to watch out for oncoming traffic,” said Kyle Lester, CDOT’s maintenance director. “In turn, we ask the traveling public to be ever diligent when coming up on work zones.”

Lester urged drivers to avoid using cell phones, pay attention to other cars, cyclists and pedestrians, and take care when passing flaggers and workers.

CDOT and other state employees will wear orange Wednesday to commemorate the week and honor the families of those who lost their lives in work zones. The public is invited to do likewise.

Liz Forster, The Gazette

Liz Forster, The Gazette