ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Distracted drivers may soon face stiffer fines, on top of the lives they’re risking.
The November 2021 fatal work zone crash on Telegraph over Interstate 270 has brought action from the impacted families. Missouri legislators are now listening, and the consequences could affect you every time you get behind the wheel.
Kaitlyn Anderson was six months pregnant when she was struck and killed in the unprotected MoDOT work zone.
Her mother, Tonya Musskopf, recently testified before a transportation infrastructure committee in Jefferson City.
“The sense of pride Kait had was something I’ll never forget,” Musskopf said. “She was proud to work for the state of Missouri.”
You can see it for yourself in a video of her daughter dancing during a work break. Then there’s a clip with her message to mom after her first MoDOT interview, when Kaitlyn said, “I love you too. Thank you and I know why I’m my mom’s daughter. Of course, I set my mind to something, and I do it.”
Kaitlyn’s aunt, Tabatha Moore, also spoke out to legislators.
“There’s something going on with our drivers in Missouri that we’re not taking it seriously,” she said.
Kaitlyn’s family has found connection and encouragement through James Brooks’ family. James, who died working alongside Kaitlyn that day, had just celebrated 20 years of marriage with his wife, Brigit.
“It could have been prevented, and I don’t know why it wasn’t,” she said.
State Rep Cyndi Buchheit-Courtway is working on two related bills: one to hold MoDOT accountable and another to increase the penalties against drivers who hit a worker or their safety equipment.
“When people are driving down the road, and they’re not paying attention, and they hit a vehicle or one of the workers, it causes life-long consequences,” Buchheit-Courtway said.
The current penalty is up to one thousand dollars in fines. The representative says it should be a minimum of one thousand. At least one other legislator, State Representative Jim Murphy from St. Louis County, agreed.
“I think we need to look at how to strengthen that absolutely, I don’t know that it’ll ever make up to the tragedy that happened to your family,” he said.
Musskopf thinks it’ll take more than just stricter punishment against bad drivers. She believes more people must buy into the idea of safe driving. With that in mind, her foundation, KaitsLoveForJaxx.Org, is holding a ‘Slow Down Move Over’ 5k walk and run this Saturday morning at Arnold City Park.