Construction site flagger John Sparks, 51, of Salem died Saturday after being run over by a dump truck. The Beaverton accidental death took place on 173rd Avenue, near Walker Road in Washington County where construction crews have been at work since July.
Witnesses said Sparks was doing his job as a traffic flagger when the dump truck backed over him. Police investigating the Oregon truck accident say it is likely Sparks was standing in the truck’s blind spot when he was hit. The driver of the truck was checked for drug or alcohol use, but a Beaverton police detective told reporters at the scene the tragic death “just looks like a freak accident.”
Sparks, an employee of Mama Jo’s Flagging, died at the scene. Residents near the work site lit candles in Sparks’ memory, and have also constructed a makeshift memorial.
According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, road construction is the most dangerous occupation in the United States, with speeding in work zones identified as the most serious problem. The state recently launched a Workzone Safety Program “aimed at reducing the number of injury and fatal traffic crashes that occur in highway work zones in Oregon.”
Flagger who died: “I’m your guardian angel” at KATU.com, September 28, 2009
Dump truck backs over Salem construction flagger, killing him at KGW.com, September 27, 2009
Oregon DOT Workzone Safety Program