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MnDOT recognizes fallen workers for Worker Memorial Day; encourage safe driving

MnDOT Worker Memorial Day
Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 7:00 PM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – In the past 62 years, dozens of Minnesota roadside workers and contractors have been killed on the job.

Thursday, the Minnesota Department of Transportation honored those who lost their lives for Worker Memorial Day.

”Today is a solemn day where we pause whatever else we have going on and honor of the lives of those who showed up to work and never made it home,” Southeast Minnesota Area Labor Council President Pommella Wegmann said.

Seven empty vests laid on chairs sat at the front of the room to represent the seven lives in Southeast Minnesota that have been lost while on the job.

”We think of them. The work they did. The families they loved,” Wegmann said.

According to the Southeast Minnesota Area Labor Council, crashes are the leading cause of death in all transportation related jobs.

”Inattention, speeding, and failing to move over are decisions that can ripple beyond your life,” Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Heath Dienger said.

Rochester Mayor Kim Norton also making a proclamation for Workers Memorial Day.

”Continuing efforts are needed to improve safety in highway work zones an all other work sites and promote public awareness about the dangers of work zones and work site hazards,” she said.

Not only do construction workers risk their lives on the job, but also snow plow drivers.

”When you are driving, you are in control of that vehicle, so not only are you protecting yourself, but you’re protecting everybody else,” MnDOT snow plow driver Gary Vinge said.

Vinge was plowing I-90 this January when a semi tried to pass him, ripping off the plow’s blade that weighs more than half a ton.

”When I first heard the crunch, it was where is it at, what’s back there. That’s when I looked in the mirror and realized there was a semi trying to pass me,” he said

Vinge is grateful he and the semi driver were okay, and remembers those who weren’t as lucky.

I was able to go home, but I was also inside a snow plow that was protecting me. But these people [seven fallen worker], probably we not in any vehicle at all to protect them,” he said

For a full list of the fallen workers and the worker memorial at MnDOT headquarters, click here.

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