McMaster signs law to protect highway workers

AIKEN — The widows of two South Carolina Department of Transportation workers killed while inspecting a shoulder washout in Aiken County on March 13 looked on Wednesday as Gov. Henry McMaster signed into law a bill that significantly increases the penalties for motorists who speed in work zones.

 

Tina Redmond, widow of Anthony “Tony” Redmond, and Robin Clark, widow of Robert “Bob” Clark, were joined by other family members, the Aiken County legislative delegation, Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall and DOT workers.

“This is a tragic moment, but also a moment of hope,” McMaster said.

State Rep. Bill Hixon, whom Hall called “our champion” of House Bill H. 4033, declared: “This bill will save lives.”

Hall said she and others had lobbied for such a law for the last five years, and State Sen. Tom Young said Wednesday’s “bittersweet” signing ceremony happened “because of the tragic loss of life.”

The new law sets fines ranging from $500 to $5,000 for endangering a highway worker, depending on whether anyone is hurt. The fines will be used to provide more law enforcement officers who will focus on patrolling work zones.

The ceremony also honored Paul Fee, a highway worker in Richland County who was killed in a work zone in early 2015.

Thirty-nine workers have been killed in work zones throughout DOT’s history. In the last five years – in addition to Redmond, Clark and Fee – Richland County worker Nicholas Johnson was killed on Interstate 20 in Lexington County and Darlington County worker Ray Norris was killed on a road there.

“We cannot bring back those men and women we have lost, but this legislation stands as a severe warning to all motorists as they approach work zones that they could be putting the lives of highway workers – and their own lives in jeopardy,” Hall said in a statement.

Lonnie Dean Miller, 29, of Augusta, who has a long history of driving offenses in Richmond County, has been charged with two counts of hit-and-run involving a death and a single count of hit-and-run involving injury in the deaths of Redmond, 54, and Clark, 64, and injuries to another worker.

Reach James Folker at (706) 823-3338 or james.folker@augustachronicle.com.

 

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