Barry Steele, 52, a Caltrans employee was critically injured in a Riverside car accident after he was struck by a suspected drunk driver, the night of July 20, 2011. According to a news report in The Press-Enterprise, the collision occurred on the westbound side of Highway 91 at Van Buren Boulevard in Riverside. California Highway Patrol officials say 21-year-old Brandi Holmes drove her Mazda into an entrance ramp, which had been blocked off by cones for construction work.
Several workers honked their horns to try and stop Holmes, but she continued down the ramp, struck a Caterpillar loader and a concrete K-rail, before hitting Steele. She then got out of the car and started walking away. But workers at the scene held her until police arrived. Steele suffered a broken neck and leg in addition to other injuries. Holmes was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. An investigation is ongoing.
My heart goes out to Barry Steele and his family members for what they are going through at this time. Here was a hard-working man, who was trying to do his job. Now he is fighting for his life. I pray that Steele makes it through these injuries and goes on to make a complete recovery.
Fatal Accidents Involving Caltrans Workers
This DUI collision is the latest in a rash of accidents involving Caltrans workers. In the past three months, three workers have been killed in Southern California while working on state highways. Stephen Palmer Sr. died after a trolley in National City hit him on May 4. An out-of-control vehicle struck and killed Jaime Obeso while he was working on Interstate 8 in Imperial County on June 7. Richard Gonzalez, 52, was killed crossing the freeway June 20 as he was cleaning litter along Interstate 15, near San Diego. Caltrans officials and local police have launched an aggressive public awareness campaign since these deadly accidents occurred.
Victim’s Claim for Compensation
In this case, based on the report, it is highly questionable if Steele will be able to return to work, at least in the near future. He will be entitled to receive workers compensation benefits. In addition, he can file a claim against the negligent driver. In such cases, injured victims would be well-advised to retain the services of an experienced Riverside personal injury lawyer, who has a successful track record of holding drunk drivers financially responsible.
Drive Safely in Construction Zones
This incident once again casts the spotlight on the importance of driving cautiously, especially in highway construction zones. Construction companies and Caltrans can take precautions and preventive steps. But drivers must also do their part by driving carefully. There is simply no room on our roadways for drunk or distracted drivers or those who break traffic laws. If you driving in a work zone on the highway or any roadway, the best step to take is to slow down and pay attention to workers. It’s the least we can do for these men and women who perform a dangerous task day in and day out so we can drive on better roads. For more information about the dangers of driving under the influence, please visit the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) web site at www.madd.org.
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