Thursday, June 9, 2022

Quick reaction, experience helps crew member escape close call

By Mark Krulish

On Friday mornings, many of us check into work thinking about all the fun things we’re gearing up to do over the weekend. But when your office is on a highway and safety is the No. 1 priority, you have to be vigilant at all times – it can often be the difference between life and death, or at least serious injury.

Thankfully, our crews are trained to always be alert and safe when working on the roads, and that paid off on Friday, June 3 during a response to a washout on the Skunk Creek Bridge on US 101 in Grays Harbor County.

Traffic was reduced to one lane while crews worked on the washout and highway maintenance worker Dalyn Davis was at the head of the closure working as a flagger.

It was an ordinary day in the field – signs and advanced messaging were up, traffic was flowing well –until Dalyn noticed a semi truck approaching, and it wasn’t slowing down.

A semi truck crashed into our guardrail near US 101 Skunk Creek but thanks to quick actions by our flagger, none of our crew were hurt.

Relying on her experience – like many of her fellow crew members, she holds a commercial driver’s license – Dalyn knew she had a split second to react. She estimated the truck was headed her way at about 45-50 mph.

“What caught my attention was he stabbed his brakes, causing his brakes to lock up,” Dalyn said. “The sound caught my attention.”

In those few milliseconds, Dalyn was able to gauge which way the truck was headed. She could see the steering wheel was turned to the right, so she dashed the opposite way and escaped its path. Dalyn and the rest of the crew were unharmed and the truck hit a guardrail and went into a shallow ditch. The Washington State Patrol is determining the cause.

“I’ve never had to play chicken with a semi before,” Dalyn said.

Summer construction season is pretty much here. You will see plenty of lane closures, emergency repairs and planned work on our state roads. We know you’re eager to get to your destination; our crews know that as well. We work to keep you safe and keep traffic moving as well as we can while also keeping our crews safe while they get work done.

With lots of road work happening this summer, it’s vital that drivers stay alert, slow down and be patient as they head through work zones.

But wherever you travel, please be as vigilant as Dalyn was last Friday. Any time you see a road worker, take care to pay extra close attention to your surroundings, slow down and give them as much room as possible.

“We’re thankful to those who go slow in work zones,” Dalyn said. “They understand we’re humans and we have a family to go home to like everyone else.”