Lynn Pinchbeck (left) and Michelle Hudson, owner and operator of Integrity Traffic Control Training, get a hug from Teala Rowe, who travelled from the coast for the Day of Mourning held in Armstrong on Saturday as people gathered to honour those killed or injured on the job. (Lisa Mazurek/Morning Star)

Fallen flagger remembered

Armstrong Day of Mourning draws traffic control industry

The wounds of loss felt in the traffic control community were re-opened Saturday.

Workers from various companies throughout the North Okanagan (and as far as the Lower Mainland) gathered at the IPE grounds for Armstrong’s inaugural Day of Mourning.

“It is important that all of us as a community workplace come together to pay tribute to workers who have died on the job,” said organizer Michelle Hudson, owner and operator of Integrity Traffic Control Training.

“Some of us are here today because we’ve been hurt ourselves, I’m sure there are quite a few of us who have had close calls.

“And some of us may have lost family members and co-workers because of these incidents.”

That rings true for all those in the traffic control industry, following the death of a colleague last year.

“Last November was a really hard day for our industry,” said Hudson. “Unfortunately it still seems like yesterday and our wounds are still very open.”

She remembers the details of that life-changing phone call she received saying there was a traffic control person who was hit on Highway 6.

Like many in the industry, the calls of concern went out to loved ones until some answers were found.

Isabelle Burroughs was on the job in Lavington on Nov. 17 when she was hit by a car. The 66-year-old battled in a hospital for nearly three weeks before she died as a result of her injuries.

“She fought so hard for many weeks to heal but there was just too much trauma to be repaired,” said Hudson.

The loss of a friend, colleague and community member was too much for Hudson to sit idly by and do nothing.

“This is how I knew I had to do something to make our industry a safer place to work.”

So with the help of the City of Armstrong, she helped bring the first Day of Mourning to the community and helped those who lost a loved one mourn.

“That’s how we now have our first annual day of mourning in Armstrong,” she said.

Burroughs was one of 16 road workers who were killed in the last 10 years.

Vernon also observed the Day of Mourning, but on Friday.

 

Organizer Michelle Hudson, owner and operator of Integrity Traffic Control Training, speaking about her friend and fellow flagger Belle Bourroughs during the Day of Mourning service held in Armstrong on Saturday. (Lisa Mazurek/Morning Star)

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