MnDOT honors workers who have died on the job

(ABC 6 NEWS) – On Thursday, people in Rochester gathered at the MnDOT facility to remember seven men who lost their lives working on roads in Southeastern Minnesota.

This event is held every year and is a reminder to all drivers that MnDOT wants everyone to keep an eye out for their workers especially with construction season getting into full swing.

Rochester Mayor Kim Norton attended the event and proclaimed April 28th, 2022 to be Worker Memorial Day in Rochester.

"I believe it is my responsibility and all of our responsibilities to help our friends and neighbors understand that speeding and distracted driving put you all at risk," Rochester Mayor Kim Norton said.

One driver shared his story of when he was involved in a crash in his snowplow back in January.

"Going along and I heard a crunch I looked in my left mirror and realized it was a semi trying to pass me," MnDOT Worker, Gary Vinge said.

There were 16 snowplow crashes in Southeastern Minnesota last season.

Vinge was able to drive away from the crash unharmed.

"Not everyone gets to go home after a crash in the work zone. So slow down pay attention at work zones or an accident. Drive like your life depends on it," Vinge said.

At the event, the seven names of the men who died in work incidents in southeastern Minnesota were read.

John Biever: Mr. Biever was working on a bridge on Highway 16 when he was hit by a truck on September 13, 1962.

Eugene Mitchell: Mr. Mitchell died working for MnDOT while in District 6 on April 23, 1964.

Earl D. Held: Mr. Held died while on a survey crew. He was on Highway 65 when three of the four men were struck by an automobile on October 30, 1964.

Roy Carls: Mr. Carls was on his way home from a meeting when his vehicle left the road and hit a bridge abutment. He died on March 2, 1968.

Jerry Holter: Mr. Holter was struck and run over by a truck while performing inspection duties on October 16, 1973.

Grayston Cain: Mr. Cain lost his life when he was struck by a truck while he was performing inspection duties on August 28, 1980.

Thomas Schmit: Mr. Schmit fell from a falsework deck suspended under a bridge and drowned in the Mississippi River on October 21, 1994.

MnDOT asks when you’re driving to remember to slow down in work zones, drive with caution, and never drive on a road blocked with barriers or cones.