The State Worker

Capitol event in Sacramento recalls fallen Caltrans employees

Jane Ray Walker places a flower for her daughter Deborah Ross who was killed on a toll bridge in San Rafael in 2009.
Jane Ray Walker places a flower for her daughter Deborah Ross who was killed on a toll bridge in San Rafael in 2009. hamezcua@sacbee.com

A somber crowd of about 3,000 people gathered on the state Capitol’s west side Thursday morning to honor Caltrans employees who have died in the line of duty and to raise public safety awareness about the “cone zone.”

The event, hosted by Sacramento media personality Beth Ruyak, celebrated a rarity: For only the second time since 2004, Caltrans had no fatalities in the last year. Still, 183 department employees have lost their lives on the job and close calls are common. Last week, for example, a department employee was hospitalized after a big rig hit a Caltrans truck on Interstate 5 in Colusa County.

“Thousands of people report for work every day braving the hazards on busy highways, roadways and bridges across California,” Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty said in a prepared statement. “This memorial is a solemn reminder to us all that we each must do our part to keep California’s roadways safe for everyone.”

Call Jon Ortiz, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1043.

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