Pickup hits back of MoDOT truck on I-70; 3 injured

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BERKELEY, MO (KTVI) – It was a scary end to a nightshift for two highway workers and a driver.  Police said a pickup slammed into a Missouri Department of Transportation truck.  So, the Missouri State Highway Patrol had a word for drivers.

“Basically, it just comes down to inattention,” said MHP Sergeant Al Nothum about the preliminary findings of a highway traffic collision in Berkeley early Tuesday morning.  Investigators said 57-year-old Homer Pall, of Berkeley, crashed around 2:15 a.m.

“We had a MoDOT vehicle, a large truck picking up debris on westbound Interstate-70,” Nothum explained.  “The vehicle behind them changed lanes and ran right into the back of that large truck.”

Two MoDOT employees, 51-year-old Manuel Davis and 56-year-old John Smith survived with only minor injuries. Pall remained hospitalized, in fair condition.

While investigators tried to find out if Pall was speeding, sick, or distracted, Nothum had a few reminders for drivers.  He wanted drivers to avoid having their own crash similar to that of one minivan driver who hit an American Water worker.  That was captured on a traffic camera this past February 2013.  The worker was wearing his visibility vest during a water-main repair in Brentwood, Missouri.    Another driver hit construction workers in Fairview Heights, Illinois in May 2012.  He and two workers were hurt.  A third worker died.

“Even if it’s not a reduced-speed (zone),” Notum explained.  “And you see large trucks, or it says ‘work zone ahead’, you should automatically slow down.”

Investigators are also checking to see if Pall was just sleepy.  Nothum knows about those who drive while drowsy.

“They always want to drive a little bit farther, ‘I can make it. I can make it.  I can make it,’” he said.  “And, they start nodding off.  And, that’s literally when lights are out.”

But for now, Nothum knows he is just happy this driver survived without seriously hurting the two highway workers.

“These things can go south real quick and someone could be killed,” Nothum said the driver.  “Things could be a lot worse.  He’s lucky.  He’s just lucky.”

Nothum said a large yellow-and-black striped bumper, called an attenuator, was attached to the MoDOT vehicle.  He said that helped protect the workers.  He also said every survivor was wearing their seatbelt.

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