LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas Department of Transportation said state police are investigating an incident on Monday where one of their employees was doing their job on the interstate when they were hit by a car and later died at the hospital.
ARDOT Public Information Officer said Dave Parker says the name of the employee who died was 25-year-old Timothy Harris, who worked as a maintenance worker for six weeks in the company.
Parker said at around 1:30 p.m., they received a call that a shovel was in the roadway along northbound Interstate 430 between Rodney Parham and Cantrell. Harris was asked to check on it and when Harris got to the location Parker says he followed the correct protocol to retrieve the shovel but was hit by a car.
“He went out there, parked his (company) truck along the roadway while wearing his orange vest, got out onto the roadway and retrieved the shovel and was trying to make his way back and did not make it,” Parker said.
Parker said Harris was taken to Baptist Hospital where he died around 9:45 p.m..
Parker also said Harris had prior experience doing the task he was working on before he was struck.
“We know that he did similar work on at least 10 occasions where he had to go out and retrieve things along the roadway. Some of those times he’s with a coworker who acted as a spotter, sometimes he worked alone like that. It just really (depends) when we get those calls to act and this one (getting the shovel) sort of needed attention right away,” Parker said.
Parker said the shovel in the middle of the interstate could have caused serious damage to drivers if not retrieved.
“That shovel could have flown up and hit another car, caused some sort of chain reaction. So, I’m sure he (Harris) was doing what he thought was the best thing and the safest thing in the most immediate way,” Parker said.
Parker said they have hundreds of maintenance workers who perform the same job as Harris did, and although their jobs are dangerous, he said the number of accidents among workers is relatively low.
He also said they stress safety to all of their employees and the jobs maintenance workers.
“Safety is a core value of ours, we try to factor that into everything we preach that day in and day out but again I’m sure Mr. Harris thought ‘This is my job there’s something in the roadway that needs to be removed for the safety of others,’” Parker said.
Parker also said he doesn’t have any indication that the driver who hit Harris did anything wrong and added he believes it was a terrible accident.