In the face of danger, one INDOT employee’s quick action may have been the difference between life and death for one of his co-workers.
On Monday, Feb. 6, employees at the Jasper Maintenance Unit took part in a celebration of those actions. Paoli Sub-District Operations Manager Randy Weikert presented a spot bonus of $1,000 to Dirk Detzer for pulling his co-worker, Bill Tooley out of the path of a stray car that struck him in a workzone.
“The whole crew was behind us in giving this award,” Weikert said. “Dirk is one of the veterans here, he’s a great leader here and his actions that day are remarkable.”
On. Sept. 13, 2016, Jasper Unit workers were performing crack sealing operations at Holland Junction (the intersection of State Roads 161 and 64 in Dubois County) when a vehicle entered the work zone. Tooley was struck by the vehicle and suffered a severely broken leg that put him out of action for an extended period of time. He credits Detzer’s actions for saving his life.
“I’m so thankful that he reacted and got me out of the way and out of more danger,” Tooley said, “He doesn’t think that it was a big deal, but I do. I think it would have been a lot worse if he hadn’t stepped in to get that car stopped. I can’t thank him enough.”
According to Detzer’s account, after Tooley was struck, he signaled to the driver of the car to stop while he pulled his co-worker out of harm’s way. He then called for help.
“I was moving a sign when heard a noise,” Detzer recalled, “I looked up and Bill was laying in front of this car. I just took off, I had to see if he was alright.”
“I decided to move him before anything else happened. I pulled him to the fog line, then I ran back to the truck. got on the radio and told everyone else that he’d been hit and we needed an ambulance.”
While many at the Jasper Unit hail Detzer as a hero, he claims that he is not.
“I just look at it as something that anyone should be able to do,” Detzer said. “I didn’t think it was that big of a deal.”
But, Detzer’s co-workers, INDOT management staff and Tooley beg to differ. Detzer was officially nominated for the “Life Saver” award by INDOT Southwest Safety Director TJ Brink and presented with his bonus by Weikert, INDOT Southwest Highway Maintenance Director Bryan Donze and INDOT Southwest District Deputy Commissioner Shane Spears.
In 2015, 17 people were killed and more than 700 people were injured in Indiana highway work zone crashes. Nationwide, there were 669 work zone traffic-related fatalities and 116 worker fatalities in 2014.