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Work zone crash survivor urges driver caution after coworker dies

This month billboards across the state will feature an ALDOT worker from Athens named Jacob Smith who was killed on the job.
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More and more people in Alabama are getting hurt and killed in work zones.

This month billboards across the state will feature an ALDOT worker from Athens named Jacob Smith who was killed on the job. When you drive through work zones an ALDOT crash survivor who was with Jacob wants you to remember his name.

“I have nightmares sometimes,” said crash survivor Kenneth Hopper. “I can’t work no more, not able to work, walk with a limp.”

Hopper was working alongside Jacob Smith in 2016 when a driver hit them in a work zone.

“Killed Mr. Smith, it broke me up,” Hopper said. “I’ve had several surgeries. It changed my life. I know it changed his family’s life. I’ll always think about what happened to me and especially Jake. He’s on my mind all the time.”

This month Smith’s face is on billboards across Alabama, reminding drivers a worst case scenario could be one distraction away. ALDOT reports in 2017 there were more than 3,000 work zone crashes in the state, almost 200 more than the year before. There were also 12 more deaths.

“It’s a common misconception that the people killed in work zone crashes are workers,” said Seth Burkett with ALDOT. “Actually the fact is that most of those people killed in work zone crashes are gonna be motorists.” 

Springtime also means the start of road work and construction season. Hopper urges you to drive carefully in order to save lives.

“Don’t be speeding, don’t be aggressive, pay attention,” Hopper said. “Because they want to go home after their shift’s done. They want you to get to work safe and they want to go home safe too to their loved ones. And on the fourteenth a friend of mine didn’t get to go home to his.”

They say to plan ahead and look online here to see if your drive will be impacted by road work. Be alert and slow down.