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DHR - SAFETY ALERT MEMO 00-05

DATE: October 11, 2000

INCIDENT TYPE: Fatal Motor Vehicle Accident

LOCATION: District 7

TYPE OF WORK ACTIVITY: Storm Patrol

THE ACCIDENT: A fatal motor vehicle accident occurred in District 7 on February 23, 2000. A CHP investigation into this accident was recently completed. This accident claimed the life of Caltrans Highway Maintenance Leadworker Charles Deming. Mr. Deming was working with District 7 Foothill Maintenance crew on a night-storm patrol operation on SR-39. Due to the storm, the crew was working 12-hour shifts. Mr. Deming had been training a new employee to operate a loader that night on the lower portion of SR-39. At approximately 4:00 AM, Mr. Deming left the loader operator to check the condition of the upper portion of SR-39. By 6:00 AM the crew began returning to the Foothill Maintenance Yard in Monrovia for the scheduled shift change at 7:00 AM. Mr. Deming did not return to the yard for the shift change. Mr. Deming's supervisor went to the upper portion of SR-39 to search for Mr. Deming. At approximately 9:30 AM, his supervisor spotted the wreckage of an orange Caltrans vehicle at the bottom of a 300-foot deep canyon. The CHP was notified and they found Mr. Deming deceased in the wreckage of his vehicle.

CONCLUSIONS: The CHP report about this accident concluded that Mr. Deming was not wearing his seat belt and this was the cause of his death.

RECOMMENDATIONS: The California Vehicle Code and Caltrans policy require that all employees be properly restrained by a safety belt when operating a vehicle. Caltrans policy further states that the driver of a vehicle is responsible for the seat belt usage for all passengers. Since 1994, four Caltrans employees have been fatally injured in vehicle accidents; two of those four employees received fatal injuries because they were not wearing their seat belts.

The Caltrans policy regarding seat belt usage should be discussed at all Safety Stand Down activities and at safety meetings. All employees must be reminded of their responsibility to "buckle up" not only themselves but all passengers before operating any vehicle.

HEADQUARTERS OFFICE OF SAFETY AND HEALTH (916) 227-2640

Released 10/27/00

This page last updated on February 26, 2002

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