California Department of Transportation District 11 ­ San Diego & Imperial Counties

District 11

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Contact: Public Information Officer Edward Cartagena

Phone: (619) 668-6670

Caltrans Honors Fallen Worker

SAN DIEGO –Officials from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the California Highway Patrol (CHP) gathered today to discuss the recent tragic death of a highway maintenance worker and to call on motorists to follow the rules of the road, and specifically to reduce their speeds and pay strict attention when traveling through work zones.

Caltrans Maintenance Leadworker Jamie Obeso was killed by an errant motorist on June 7 while working in a lane closure on Interstate 8 near the Sun Beam Rest Area, 6 miles west of El Centro.  It was the second highway worker fatality during the past month in the Imperial/San Diego Region.

Mr. Obeso was a Caltrans employee for the past 22 years.  He was a resident of Imperial and is survived by his wife, Maria, and two adult children, Ida and Jaime Jr.  Donations for a memorial fund are being accepted through the California Transportation Foundation, 581 La Sierra Dr., Sacramento, CA 95864.  Please enter “Jaime Obeso Fund” in the check memo line.

“Whenever we lose a Caltrans worker our entire Caltrans family grieves,” said Malcolm Dougherty, director of Caltrans.  “It is one of the hardest parts of this job – to know that our dedicated workers put their lives on the line every time they go to work on California’s roadways.”

Caltrans and the CHP are stepping up outreach efforts to let drivers know that they need to drive carefully around highway work zones.  The “Slow for the Cone Zone” campaign started in 1999 and state work zone fatalities have fallen by nearly 60 percent, compared to just an 18 percent drop nationally.  But the two recent fatalities have officials worried that drivers may have forgotten the message.
 
“The tragic death of Jaime Obeso must serve as a reminder to all drivers that they risk taking a life unless they take extra care when driving in a highway work zone,” said Laurie Berman, Caltrans district 11 director.  “We ask all motorists to please remember to slow down, allow extra following room, avoid all distractions, and be prepared for sudden stops whenever they approach an area where highway work is going on.  And above all, do not operate a vehicle while impaired.”

There have been 177 state workers killed while employed by Caltrans and its predecessor, the Department of Public Works, Division of Highways. The passing of Mr. Obeso in the line of duty is a stark reminder that Caltrans workers face constant dangers from speeding, distracted or impaired motorists on highway work sites.

For more information on Slow for the Cone Zone campaign, please visit www.slowfortheconezone.com.

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