AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The investigation continues into the death of an Ohio Department of Transportation worker along Interstate 680. Thursday’s accident has caught the attention of everyone who works under similar circumstances.
Working along the road is a dangerous environment.
James Crosby was a flagman on Friday while a catch basin was being fixed on Kirk Road. He said the death of ODOT worker John Pasko had been on his mind all day because he also works around traffic.
“For us, scary is all the time,” Crosby said.
He said drivers don’t pay attention.
“They’re on cell phones, so they come up on us really fast and we have to wave at them, and they still don’t see us because they’re still driving and not paying attention.”
Doug Sollitto is a union rep for ODOT workers. He knew John Pasko, who he described as a super nice guy who was well-liked by other workers.
While the exact details of the crash are being investigated, ODOT workers do everything they can to be visible and stay safe.
“Right now, all the workers have hard hats, vests, strobe lights, signs are placed out there,” Sollitto said. “It just doesn’t appear to be enough.”
All of the safety equipment is set up, but it takes drivers to see it and obey it. Crosby knows what that’s like.
“You can never have enough safety,” he said. “When you’re out here and people are going at top speeds, they just ain’t paying attention. You got signs out, vests on — it just don’t matter.”
Sollitto said distracted driving is the number one hazard for roadside workers. Drivers just aren’t as aware as they should be, despite the state making a big change to help protect workers five years ago.
“I think with the Move Over Ohio law, there’s enough in place but there needs to be more enforcement of it and stricter penalties on it,” Sollitto said.
The Move Over law tells drivers to slow down and move over when they see flashing lights from emergency or construction vehicles.
Sollitto would also like more radar in work zones and cameras set up to catch what’s going on.
Investigators are not yet sure of the cause of Thursday’s crash. They said the 73-year-old driver had a medical emergency — possibly a heart attack — but they don’t know if it happened before or after the accident.