It Could Have Been Terrible

By Jeff Romine
I have done maintenance work on the highways for KDOT for more than 29 years. I have been in and seen many accidents and injuries in my time here, but one day in particular stands out.
It started out like any other typical June day, but it would soon be a day I would always remember. I gave out job assignments that morning, like normal.  One of them was to my Equipment Operator Specialist who I sent to assist the Bridge Inspection crew from the district office on an inspection project. 
About three hours later, I received a call about a KDOT truck involved in an accident.  It was only about a five-mile to drive to accident scene, but it was a long five miles.  I didn’t know if anybody had been hurt or killed, or who was involved.

When I finally got there

I realized this was where the inspection crew and my EO Specialist were working. I pulled up and I noticed the bridge inspection truck and a motorist’s vehicle on its side with somebody in it. But I didn’t see my person or his vehicle, and my heart missed a beat or two.  Then I finally saw him - he was down the road providing traffic control.
After talking to everyone involved, I found out that all the KDOT workers were out of their vehicles and under the bridge working when they heard a crash. They saw my EO Specialist’s truck pushed off the road about 100 yards down into the ditch. The truck hit so hard, it pushed trees down in the ditch.
The motorist’s vehicle then hit the inspection crew’s truck, which was parked about 75 feet away. If the workers had been coming up from under the bridge and been near the vehicles, it could have been terrible.
The driver was taken to the hospital and was fine.  He said that he didn’t see the lights going on any of the vehicles.  
Overall, we were very lucky to not have anybody hurt or killed. I would just like to remind everybody – pay attention. If you see lights, slow down, check your surroundings and get over if possible.
Jeff Romine is a KDOT Supervisor in Eskridge


  1. Priscilla Petersen9/27/2012

    Jeff: Our crews face dangers every single day along the highways - and how very fortunate that no one was injured in this incident. But what could that driver have been thinking or doing that he didn't notice the lights?? Motorists everywhere need to get rid of all distractions and FOCUS ON YOUR DRIVING.

  2. Kristi Pyle, Work Zones9/27/2012

    Thank you for sharing your story, Jeff. I am SO grateful that our KDOT family members were not hurt and that the other driver did not have any lasting injuries. Those few minutes between hearing about an accident and getting the details, when your heart misses beats and it is hard to breathe, can stretch on forever ~ leaving a scar even when things turn out OK. For everyone else out there: it isn't worth it! Take that small moment to click your seatbelt, put the phone in the trunk or glove box, leave the radio dial alone, and pay close attention to the road as you drive. These are the things that can turn a traumatic, scarring event into an enjoyable, perhaps unmemorable, drive that leaves everyone with another day to live. Thank you!!

  3. You wonder how anyone could not notice the vehicle warning lights! Must have been some sort of distraction that consumed all the driver’s attention. The sad thing is the problem is likely to get worse because there are more distractions now than ever. There are many folks out there who could use some good mentoring! In the meanwhile everyone needs to remain vigilant when in work zones.

  4. In my 23 years with KDOT we deal with high volumes of traffic every day. Every day is a close call with all the distracted drivers out there. I had numerous dump trucks hit over the years and it still amazes me how people can not see our BIG ORANGE truck with the strobes going.
    I was reminded today of this when I was in my pickup providing traffic control for my guys to remove tree limbs off of the barrier wall. I was parked where there was over 1/2 mile site distance and I almost got rear-ended by a woman who was on her cell phone. As a supervisor we face these situations on a daily basis. We don't get many thank you or good job for removing hazards.
    We love providing service to the traveling in keeping the roadways safe.

  5. Anonymous4/15/2014

    Wow. 29 years. That is a really respectable career. Thank you so much for all of your hard work. This is such a sad and scary story. I hope that nothing like this ever happens to my son and his clique.

    Eliza Lawrence |