DENVER – Transportation departments across the country are gearing up for a week of education and reflection.
This year’s Work Zone Awareness Week is particularly meaningful for us in Colorado after a Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) worker was hit and killed in early February .
“He was my husband, he was my joy, my life,” Sandra Hamilton said about her late-husband Nolan Olson.
After 21 years together, Sandra lost the love of her life.
“It was senseless,” she said.
In February, Olson was filling potholes on the south side of U.S. Highway 160. He was hit by a passing car and tragically died from those injuries.
“I just beg people to pay more attention and be more aware of the souls out there doing their jobs and doing their work,” Sandra said.
It’s that same message CDOT wants drivers to keep in mind this week, for the national campaign.
“These are real people,” Stacia Sellers with CDOT said. “I know that sometimes work zones can be really frustrating, and they think that they're happening too often, but there are still real people behind those work zones.”
Sellers said 15 people were killed in Colorado work zones in 2017. She specified none were CDOT workers.
“The year before, it was under 10,” Sellers added.
Of course, it’s much more than statistics - it’s peoples’ lives.
CDOT encourages drivers to put down the phone, slow down, and pay extra attention no matter how frustrating the roadwork may be.
Sandra Hamilton said Olson spent 14 years with the department. He was set to retire in October.
She said the two talked about everything they were going to do, but Sandra never imagined February 2nd would be the last time they talked.
Sandra remembered, “The last thing I said to him was, ‘Be safe, I love you.’”
The national campaign will also include a memorial ceremony on Thursday. Nine people will be honored, their names engraved and the memorial will be revealed on Thursday. CDOT said Nolan Olson’s name will be among those names.