Marathon County Highway promotes national work zone safety - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Marathon County Highway promotes national work zone safety

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MARATHON COUNTY, Wis. (WAOW) -

In 2017 there were 2,763 crashes in Wisconsin road construction zones, according to state officials.

The crashes caused 1,067 injures and resulted in six fatalities. 

April 9th - 13th is national work zone awareness week. The Marathon County Highway Department is making drivers aware that tragedy can happen anytime. 

"I never took it seriously, I never thought it would happen," Heather Stempa said.

Heather's husband, Derek Stempa, was killed in May 2015 while working on a highway in Shawano County.

"My daughter was only three when this happened, and several times over the last few years she has come up to me crying and ask why did my daddy die," Stempa said.

Derek was struck and killed by a driver distracted by two dogs in the car.

"A couple of times he would say, you know, he would mention, drivers getting really close but it would worry me at the time," Stempa said. "But I never thought anything would ever happen -- especially that catastrophic."

On Tuesday, Marathon County Highway Department held a tour of a work zone to demonstrate some of the dangers the workers face.

"Work zone safety awareness is very important to us, because a lot of the work we do takes place on the four lane roads and any highway road you can travel on," said department employee Chris Baguhn.

According to Baguhn, obeying the rules will allow for a faster fix on the roads.

"Try to stay with the speeds if it's posted at 55 or 45. It's done for a reason for everybody's safety," Baguhn said.

As for Stempa, she does not want anyone else to go through the same tragedy.

"Look at those people on the side of the road like they are your family because they are somebody else's," Stempa said.

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