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Feb. 25, 2024

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Officials: Road worker’s injuries highlight need for safe driving

Man was hit by suspected drunk driver on Highway 502 last month

By , Columbian Transportation & Environment Reporter

Berdan Lindberg says he doesn’t remember anything about the collision that landed him in a hospital during the early morning hours of April 23.

That’s when a pickup truck on state Highway 502 left its lane and struck Lindberg, a foreman with contractor Rotschy, Inc. Lindberg ended up with a concussion, but no broken bones, and went home later that day. The driver of the pickup was suspected of driving under the influence of intoxicants, according to police.

Scott Jeffries, a Rotschy superintendent, rushed to Lindberg’s aid immediately after the incident. Jeffries didn’t see the impact, but knows it could have been worse.

“We got extremely lucky this time,” Jeffries said. Next time, he added, that may not be the case.

The incident came during an unfortunate time for the Washington State Department of Transportation, which was in the middle of its Work Zone Safety Awareness Week campaign. Lindberg was struck just hours after WSDOT officials gathered in Olympia the previous day for a memorial ceremony honoring fallen workers.

“We don’t want anyone hurt in our work zones,” said WSDOT spokesman Bart Treece. “But when it happens just on the heels of our worker memorial event, it resonates a lot more.”

Safety is a constant point of emphasis for WSDOT, Treece said, and that message becomes particularly important as the summer construction season approaches. It’s the time of year when some larger projects, as well as paving, striping and other weather-dependent work, ramp up he said.

That includes the Highway 502 project where Lindberg was injured recently. Major work resumed last month after the project largely shut down for the winter. Crews are widening Highway 502 between Interstate 5 and Battle Ground.

Lindberg was doing striping work when he was struck near the highway’s intersection with Northeast 50th Avenue. The day after the incident, Lindberg said he expected to take some time off to recover. He planned to return to the job site eventually.

“I think it will be normal,” Lindberg said. “I think I’ll watch my back a little more.”

Construction workers have to be alert at all times while on the job, Jeffries said. Wrecks have happened before on Highway 502, and it’s common to see drivers on the corridor at night who appear to be impaired, he said.

The majority of drivers are respectful and mindful of workers when passing through construction areas, Treece said. But WSDOT urges all people to slow down, pay attention and drive without distraction, he said.

“We need drivers to help us out,” Treece said. “We need everybody to do their part.”

Columbian Transportation & Environment Reporter