VDOT Workers Hailed as Heroes
May 1, 2015: A 21-year-old Newport News man has two VDOT workers to thank for rescuing him after being trapped in his overturned car in James City County for nearly eight hours.
Williamsburg Residency maintenance crew members Chris Johnson and Charles Canaday (pictured) were headed to their headquarters the morning of April 17 when they stopped along Monticello Avenue in James City County to pick up a broken signpost from the roadway.
As they climbed back into their vehicle and started to pull away, they spotted tire tracks and guardrail damage and decided take a second look.
As they followed the tracks, they spotted an overturned Saab convertible down an embankment near Powhatan Creek Bridge (lower right, photo courtsey James City County Police). It’s an area not visible from the road, and as they approached the badly damaged vehicle, they heard a man yelling for help.
Canaday recalls first approaching the victim: “He kept saying, ‘Help me, help me.’ ”
Johnson stayed with the victim while Canaday phoned 911. It was a chilly morning and the driver had been trapped and immersed in water.
Canaday feels certain an air pocket in the vehicle kept the man alive.
Canaday and Johnson agree the driver was extremely lucky because he was able to walk away from the scene. A police report indicates he suffered broken bones of the mouth and jaw.
Williamsburg Residency Administrator Rossie Carroll says had his crew not taken a closer look, he “fears the outcome could have been much different.”
“I’m so pleased they acted on their gut instinct and investigated further," said Hampton Roads District Administrator Jim Utterback. "It tells me these two employees are extremely diligent in their duties and they epitomize the type of employees we’re proud to have in the ranks at VDOT.”
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month
April 6, 2015: In 2013, 3,154 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver.
According to a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, sending or receiving a text takes a driver's eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent of driving blind at 55 miles per hour for the length of an entire football field.
To tackle this ever-increasing problem, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is focusing on ways to change the behavior of drivers through legislation, enforcement, public awareness and education — the same tactics that have curbed drinking and driving and increased seat belt use.
NHTSA’s message is simple – “One Text or Call Could Wreck it All.” The campaign to stop distracted driving has pledged its support to help spread the message that distracted drivers are not only a danger to themselves, but everyone else on the road.
This month, state and local law enforcement will also aggressively ticket drivers who are texting or using their mobile devices when behind the wheel.
Work Zone Awareness Week Vigil Held
March 26, 2015: The rain held off as VDOT and our safety partners held a moving Work Zone Awareness Week Vigil at the Workers' Memorial on Afton Mountain in Albemarle County.
Speakers included Commissioner Charlie Kilpatrick, P.E., Culpeper District Administrator John Lynch, P.E. (pictured, far right), Lebanon Residency Administrator Conrad Hill, Jeff Southard, executive vice president of the Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance, Drive Smart Virginia's Janet Brooking and Lt. Paul D. Watts, Virginia State Police (pictured).
All of the speakers recognized the families of departed workers who were in attendance. The vigil ended with a moment of silence for the 133 workers whose names are etched on the memorial.
"No matter which way you will travel home tonight, you’re likely to encounter a work zone," said Lynch. "In memory of those we are here to honor, and for those who work hard to make Virginia’s roads the safest and best-maintained in the country, please drive carefully."
Culpeper Tiger Team Deploys to Hampton Roads
March. 5, 2015: On Feb. 25, the VDOT Culpeper District deployed a 14-man Tiger Team to assist Chesapeake with snow removal. The team took five dump trucks with plows and spreaders, as well as a stocked mechanic’s truck for mobile equipment servicing.
For many of the employees, this was a trip into familiar territory: Culpeper sent two teams to Chesapeake on a similar assignment in late January last year.
“It was an adventure, to say the least,” said Wayne Sutphin, Madison area headquarters superintendent and Tiger Team leader. “Learning their way, compared to our way, of snow removal was an experience, but as a team, we adjusted and cleared the roads to the best of our ability.
"All of our operators were teamed with a Chesapeake operator as a navigator, and their trucks joined ours to form plow trains. This worked well to clear roads from curb to curb, sometimes with police officers assisting with rolling traffic blocks, which made a world of difference.”
There were some equipment issues, but by taking mechanics along who could quickly make repairs, the trucks were soon back in action.
“To sum it up, we had a well-experienced team that was ready and willing to respond to any type of emergency, regardless of where in the state,” said Sutphin. “They are willing to leave their families and drop everything on a moment’s notice to help others, and for that they deserve much more than a thank you.”