INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Governor Mike Pence issued a statement asking drivers to slow down and pay attention after two construction workers were hit by a pickup truck along I-69 just north of Indianapolis early Friday morning, May 9.
“We extend our sincere condolences to the families of the two construction workers killed today in the I-69 accident,” said Gov. Mike Pence in his statement. “... Hoosiers must work together to reduce the number of accidents in highway work zones and protect Indiana’s workers.”
The crash happened about 5:45 a.m. in the southbound lanes a couple miles north of I-465, causing traffic heading into Indianapolis to back up for several miles in the heavily traveled suburban area.
Indiana State Police Sgt. Rich Myers said investigators didn’t immediately know why the driver of the pickup ran into the large arrow board set up in the left lanes of the highway or how fast the truck was going.
The two people killed, who worked for a contractor, were standing along the road and about to move the arrow board after crews had moved cones marking off the paving area, Myers said.
Police identified those killed as Kenneth Duerson Jr., 49, of Indianapolis, and Coty Demoss, 24, of Noblesville. They worked for contractor Reith Riley, a company based in Goshen.
“They were essentially done and had backed up to the arrow board with another truck, had it hooked up and were standing along the right-hand side when they were struck,” he said.
The 22-year-old man driving the pickup was stuck inside the vehicle because of the damage. He was taken to a hospital with minor injuries, Myers said. Alcohol use wasn’t suspected as a factor, Myers said, but toxicology tests were being conducted.
The Indiana Department of Transportation will conduct a joint investigation with the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration to determine whether proper safety procedures were followed, highway agency spokesman Nathan Riggs said.
Such crashes show the dangers of highway construction areas, Riggs said.
“So many things can happen suddenly in a work zone, it’s imperative that you just pay attention,” he said. “Look at the signs, slow down and make sure you have enough room, especially with the vehicle in front of you.”
According to a press release from Pence's office, this is the first fatality involving an INDOT worker or contractor since 2012.
Elkhart Truth reporter Sharon Hernandez contributed to this report. Follow her on Twitter @Sharon_HT