WEST SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A Caltrans employee is fighting for his life after being hit while doing roadwork on the interstate. The unthinkable happened Friday morning on Interstate 80 after a van began spinning out of control.
“The van, it didn’t hit Gary head on, but it hit him sideways,” said his fiancé Madeleine Ison. “Gary took most of the impact. He flew about 30 feet and slammed into a concrete wall. The van also hit a light pole and the light pole fell onto Gary, which badly broke his legs.”
Gary Morin, 32-years-old, was filling potholes when a driver bailed off the 50 Interstate interchange onto 80 eastbound at the last second, which caused the car to clip a semi. It’s left Morin in critical condition.
“We did hear that Gary knew it was coming, but there just wasn’t enough time to get out of the way,” Ison said.
His family is now waiting patiently to find out his prognosis after breaking several bones and fracturing his skull.
“Last night they did put him in a medically induced coma, so it has just been a real struggle,” Ison said.
It’s a dangerous job that’s killed 189 Caltrans workers since 1921 and 98 since 1971. That’s not including independent contractors.
“The number is actually higher,” said Dennis Keaton with the department, who says speed and distracted driving is the leading cause. “It’s really a big issue for anyone working on the side of the highway.”
Ison says Morin just wrapped up work in Tahoe and came home to an early morning shift in West Sacramento.
“Honestly I knew the dangers of the job, but I never ever thought this would happen to us,” Ison said. “The job is so important that they’re doing, fixing the roads for us, the least that we can do is just slow down to ensure their safety,”
The couple got engaged earlier this year, now the wedding has been postponed.
“I can’t even imagine if I lose him, he’s my everything,” she said.
The department urges drivers to pay attention and slow down in road work areas. And as a reminder, the “move over” law is designed to give emergency personnel a buffer and also applies Caltrans workers. Drivers can be ticketed if they fail to comply.
As for Morin, he had been Caltrans less than 6 months and isn’t eligible for healthcare, but his family is hoping workers compensation will take care of the medical expenses.
His friends set up GoFundMe to help with expenses.
[Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported that 52 workers have died since 1971.]