JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The family of a child who drowned at summer camp joined forces with families whose relatives died in a work zone crash. They confronted politicians to save others from their pain.
The families collectively lost four loved ones in preventable tragedies.
Relatives of fallen MoDOT workers Kaitlyn Anderson and James Brooks pushed for change in the halls of Missouri’s Capitol.
“We are now bound together for life,” Alisha Blackwell-Calvert, Brooks’ stepdaughter, said.
They were joined by the parents of T.J. Mister, who drowned at his summer camp.
“Our children are not coming back. It’s not for our children. It’s to save others,” Olga Mister, T.J.’s mother, said.
They confronted legislators with the help of Missouri Representative Michael Burton.
“We’ve had great success, just walking into legislative offices,” he said.
Burton is working on bills in response to both tragedies. He says politicians on the other side of the aisle are listening.
“We’ve gotten really great response from a lot of Republican representatives,” he said. “I believe, today, we actually found a Republican representative to file T.J.’s Law when it’s complete. And so it will be a bipartisan bill, and I’m really excited about that.”
He hopes T.J.’s Law will regulate summer camps, which are currently exempt from the licensing and safety requirements the government demands of daycares.
“I hope our story keeps playing over and over in people’s heads,” Travone Mister, T.J.’s father, said.
Olga added: “The responses that we got were, ‘That’s crazy! Camps are not regulated?’”
They say politicians were also surprised to hear about an unusual loophole exposed when Kaitlyn Anderson died with her unborn baby, Jaxx, in a work zone MoDOT left unprotected. Workers’ comp did not pay out because Kaitlyn was not married, and her baby did not survive.
“We have the right to go to work safely and our companies should be held accountable if they fail to keep us safe,” Tabatha Moore, Kaitlyn’s aunt, said.
Burton also filed a bill to close that loophole called Kaitlyn’s Law. State Senator Doug Beck, who the families visited in his office Tuesday, said he also just filed a Senate version of the bill.
“People are listening and that is fantastic,” Blackwell-Calvert said.
They all took time off work to change our laws. Two mothers at the center.
“Being moms of children that are gone, we have this bond that we share. We understand each other,” Olga said.
“It’s a bond we shouldn’t have, but we do, and I’m going to fight for her son just like I fight for my daughter and grandson. Together,” Tonya Musskopf, Kaitlyn Anderson’s mother, said.