A professional with 37 years of experience keeping drivers and workers safe on local highways is now battling a devastating workplace injury.
An employee of Okanagan Traffic Control Professionals was struck by a car Friday morning on Highway 6 in Lavington. The 66-year-old Enderby resident remains in serious but stable condition at Kelowna General Hospital.
While the loving wife and mother to two sons and a daughter fights in hospital, her colleagues are shaken by the incident.
“It’s a pretty terrible thing,” said Traci Jeeves, OCTP owner.
Unable to hold back her tears, Jeeves explains how Friday was a special day for the flagger.
“It was her 66th birthday on the day she was hurt.”
Having worked for her for 10 years, no one ever would have expected this to happen.
“She was top notch. She had 37 years experience so it’s a bit of a shock to all of us who have a lot of experience because there’s nothing we could have done,” said Jeeves, who has been in business for 17 years and says her staff have hundreds of hours of experience.
“If anyone would have been hurt I would have never guessed it would have been anyone from my team.”
Therefore the incident has left the “family” at OCTP shaken.
“There is critical, serious head injuries,” said Jeeves. “She is not doing very good so we are waiting for her to respond to medications that will reduce the bleeding and swelling in her head.
“It’s pretty hard.”
Jeeves only hopes that the incident can serve as a reminder to motorists to pay attention.
“It doesn’t matter how much experience you (traffic control personnel) have, if a driver is distracted it, it can happen.”
At the same time, she feels for the 75-year-old driver.
“This poor driver he made an error and now he’s, I’m sure, mourning and grieving somewhere - I just can’t imagine how he’s feeling.
“He tried to stop, he saw our stop sign but couldn’t stop in time, for whatever reason. It was an accident.”
Meanwhile an awareness event planned Saturday for the site where the flagger was hit, has been moved from the somber site. The event will take place on Highway 97 in Vernon on hospital hill.
“It’s a little too soon,” said Jeeves. “How do we support that? I would love to be there, but I was just there picking up garments on the roadway.”
While she knows those planning the event and attending mean well, it’s still so raw for those still in shock from the incident.
“I’m supporting my workers to do whatever they want. But Sunday was a world day of remembrance for traffic victims. I don’t think we need another day this close to when (she) was hurt.”