By Carman Ange
Just the night before, I had packed Curtis’ cooler with bottles of Gatorade because you need lots of fluids when working on the highway in the heat. And we talked about him going fishing soon with his brother who had just gotten back from Afghanistan.
The next morning, imagine saying good bye to your son, not realizing that will be the last thing said. Imagine not being able to see your loved one, until funeral arrangements are made, and their body is prepped for viewing. Imagine the crew members that were there that day and had to go back work.
Imagine on August 5, 2012, that was your son that went to work and didn’t get to come home. My family’s world was changed forever that day when we were notified that my son Curtis was struck by a car and killed while working in a Kansas work zone. Curtis was only 22 with his entire life ahead of him.
As a mother, you ask yourself - what could I have done to protect him? Why did I let him leave the house? Did I tell him that I loved him? Why couldn't it have been me instead of him? I can't get past that horrific day. I’m constantly reliving that day over and over again in my mind. You can't sleep, you have nightmares of him in the casket because that’s the last time you seen him. The pain is so unbearable, you just hope it doesn’t happen to someone else. I strongly believe the law needs to be changed, because some people don’t care if it just says fines double in the work zone.
Work zone safety involves all road users, including roadway workers, emergency responders, law enforcement, pedestrians, motorists, and cyclists. Remember as a driver “we” make the life-saving decision. Once “we” get behind that wheel, “we” are the ones ultimately responsible. The decisions “we” make not only affect us, but also affect the ones around us. Can “we” make a difference? Yes.
Obey the posted speed and warning signs, don’t drive while under the influence, stay alert and pay attention, avoid distractions, prepare for sudden changes in traffic, expect delays and take an alternate route if available. By doing these things, you improve safety and reduce accidents - an accident possibly to you, your loved one, or other motorists who could be injured or killed.
National Work Zone Awareness Week is April 7 through April 11. I ask everyone for a moment of silence for the loved ones that lost their lives. Please give thanks to the emergency responders, law enforcement, motorist assists, highway construction crews, and many others who I might of have missed, they work in these dangerous conditions. Why? They’re there to “protect us.”
Don’t let this tragedy happen to your family, your loved ones, friends, and co-workers.
Carman Ange’s son, Curtis Harlan, was killed in a highway work zone