ST. LOUIS – It was a year ago this month when a fatal work zone crash took the lives of two MoDOT workers and an unborn baby.
The family of one of those workers hopes their new safety campaign prevents another tragedy.
Four billboards now sprinkle the St. Louis area with the message, “A protective barrier could have saved our lives.” It pictures Kaitlyn Anderson, pregnant with her son Jaxx.
They were killed on November 18, 2021, along with MoDOT worker James Brooks. A third worker, Michael Brown, suffers from a brain injury after being struck working on Telegraph Road over Interstate 255.
“They were sent out there with no protection,” said Tabatha Moore, Anderson’s aunt.
Moore asked permission to put up yard signs to supplement the billboard campaign.
“We hope they ask a neighbor,” she said. “We hope they see one of our 70 signs that have been picked up or dropped off and ask ‘Hey, what’s this about?’”
It is about a fatal scene they say could have been avoided had MoDOT brought a protective truck also called a TMA. There was not one that day.
“We’ve been asking that since day one,” Moore said. “‘How did the breakdown in training happen that led to supervisors sending three employees out with no required protective vehicle?’”
Elizabeth Williams-Chaplain saw one of the safety signs and said she felt compelled to reach out as a mother.
“Then found out a lot more about the safety standards that weren’t met and all the other stuff, like her fight that she’s doing and wanted to be involved,” said Elizabeth Williams-Chaplain.
“There’s nothing we can do to hold MoDOT or any other company in Missouri accountable for their negligence because of the way the laws are written,” Moore said.
Anderson and her baby Jaxx fall through the cracks of Missouri worker’s compensation law because Anderson was not married, and her unborn baby died, leaving no surviving children. The family’s attorney said MoDOT has argued in court that workers compensation is the only recourse for Anderson’s family.
Attorney Mundwiller said Missouri makes it very difficult to hold the government accountable.
“If your case is frivolous, the jury will tell you it’s frivolous,” he said. “This is not a frivolous situation. We want to make sure that not another family has to go through this.”
MoDOT said it cannot comment on pending litigation.
Williams-Chapman said she is now helping with the distribution of safety signs.
“I think there’s a lot of people that are unaware, but I think the reach is going a little more than we originally thought,” she said.