Leader Blues

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

TOP STORY >>Highway worker dies on road

IN SHORT: A state employee who was removing a dead animal from Hwy. 67/167 was struck and killed Tuesday morning.

By PEG KENYON AND JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader staff writers

A state Highway and Transportation Department worker re-moving a dead animal from southbound Hwy. 67/167 about a quarter mile south of the on-ramp at Redmond Road Tuesday morning was struck and killed by a passing motorist.

The AHTD employee was identified as Jerome Harris from College Station, according to Glenn Bolick, a spokesman for AHTD.
Harris was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, according to Bolick.

The driver of the vehicle that struck Harris was identified as D. Lance Smith of Evening Shade. Smith was driving south in a 1994 Ford pickup on Hwy. 67/167 near Redmond Road when he struck Harris.

The accident occurred about 11:30 a.m. Smith was not injured, according to the police report.

“Harris was trying to remove a dead animal out of the roadway,” Bolick said. “And that’s when he got run over.”
Bolick said Harris had picked up the animal—he didn’t know what kind—and was returning to his truck when he was struck and killed. It is still unclear whether Smith struck Harris first and then his vehicle or the other way around.

The impact apparently knocked Harris out of one of his boots, and his body traveled nearly 100 yards up the road before it came to a rest.

The worker’s truck was parked on the outside highway shoulder, about three feet from the southbound lane. The back bumper and back quarter panel on the driver’s side of the truck were damaged, the back axle dislodged, tire flattened and steel wheel heavily dented. One of Harris’ boots and a glove were still on the highway next to the truck.

Further south, a recent model silver coupe was pulled over onto the shoulder. It had damage on its passenger’s side.
Awaiting the coroner, a state trooper warned a photographer away from what he called “my crime scene.”
At about noon, southbound traffic was at a standstill as far north as Vandenberg Boulevard.

The Jacksonville Police Department assisted state troopers at the accident scene.

While highway department workers aren’t often killed on the job, it is dangerous work, Bolick said, particularly for those who pick up dead animals and debris from a highway that may carry 60,000 to 70,000 vehicles a day.