Grove City Record

ODOT worker toppled from truck

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An Ohio Department of Transportation worker landed in the hospital after a fall from the elevated bucket of a "cherry picker" truck on Stringtown Road last week, but is expected to make a full recovery.

The worker's fall was caused in a traffic accident, when a Penske rental truck struck the ODOT truck shortly before 3 p.m. May 29, at the intersection of Stringtown Road and the Interstate 71 southbound traffic ramp.

ODOT was doing maintenance work on the intersection's traffic signal when the eastbound Penske truck struck the bucket truck.

The ODOT truck was parked in what Grove City Capt. Jeff Pearson said was the "sweet spot," the location where the vehicle would not impede the flow of traffic at the intersection.

"As he was working on the light, the lanes next to him were not blocked off," Pearson said.

However, the bucket of the cherry picker was not in line with its vehicle, and vehicles had been passing under it, including a different Penske truck that cleared the bucket.

"Instead of being in line with his own vehicle, the bucket was hanging over the lane of traffic," Pearson said. "(The worker) was outside his safe zone."

The worker, a 29-year-old Fredericktown man, fell 16 feet into the roadway. He was taken to Grant Medical Center by Jackson Township EMS with "incapacitating" injuries, according to the accident report.

At this time, it's not known what caused the truck to hit the cherry picker bucket, but drugs or alcohol use by the driver are not suspected. Police filed no charges against the motorist.

ODOT spokeswoman Nancy Burton said the organization is in the early stages of conducting its own investigation of the accident.

"The investigation is ongoing," she said.

Burton also said the worker is expected to recover.

"I believe he's still in the hospital," she said Monday, June 3. "We're expecting a full recovery and certainly hoping for one."

That traffic light at Stringtown and I-71 is maintained by ODOT, and ODOT has the authority to shut down traffic lanes, Pearson said.

"It's the responsibility of the worker to create a safe zone," he said.

Pearson said when approaching a work site in the road, drivers should try to create as much safe distance as possible, even if the safe zone is not well marked.

"Stay as far away as they can so they can give the workers room," he said.

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