Caltrans honors fallen workers

MT. SHASTA, Calif. - Caltrans held a memorial Tuesday in Mount Shasta for workers who have been killed on the job.

An estimated 225 people from Caltrans, the California Highway Patrol and local political offices attended the event.

The memorial is a yearly event held to honor the 14 Caltrans workers who have been killed in District Two since Caltrans was incorporated in 1921.

Last year the memorial was scheduled for April 25 but Joseph "Robert" Jones and Shawn Baker were killed in a landslide the day before. Caltrans elected to cancel the service that year.

Rich Jones and Denny Parker were there to pay respects to their brother Joseph "Robert" Jones who was killed last year.  They say his death was unexpected and very tough to take.

"One week earlier we were celebrating his 40th birthday," says Rich Jones.  "Then the next week we're going to his funeral."

This year Caltrans workers set up 14 empty chairs adorned with name placards, reflective vests and empty Caltrans hard hats in memorial.

"We're missing a very important worker," says Tammie Baker, Shawn Baker's wife struggling through tears. "We lost a very important member of the District Two team in the Caltrans family."

In total there have been 182 work-site deaths among Caltrans workers statewide since 1921.  Most of them have been maintenance workers killed in traffic collisions.

Caltrans said that despite their efforts, the injuries have been reduced by 5 percent since last year, with 62 people killed in work zones last year.  Most of them were motorists killed in rear-end collisions.

Another memorial will be held May 1 at the Capitol building in Sacramento to memorialize Caltrans workers from all across California.

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