Former El Dorado County Department of Transportation Worker David Eggert Killed in New Mexico

by Placerville Newswire / Mar 16, 2016 / comments

To you it may look like a hassle, an annoying delay between where you are and where you want to go, but for those who work on the roads -- that construction zone is their office.

It's the kind of place where Louis Gyarmati just lost his best friend -- David Eggert.

"It took me by shock. It's something I did not expect for him," said Gyarmati.

Gyarmati learned all he knows about working on California's roads from Eggert before Eggert took his talents and genuine nature to New Mexico.

"We did a whole bunch of weed control, plowing snow a lot ... working nights."

Gyarmati's mentor and backyard barbecue buddy was killed in New Mexico on Monday along with a co-worker for that state's Department of Transportation.

State police there say a 92-year-old driver hit their car while they were out on a job -- slamming that car into those two men.

It's the kind of accident no one could have imagined for a man who taught others to watch for every hazard.

"He's one of the safest guys I know when you're out there working on the roads.  He makes sure safety's No. 1," said Gyarmati.

But there's only so much one worker in any state can control.

Caltrans estimates that their department vehicles are hit about three times a day, roughly 1,000 times each year.

The latest stats show 183 Caltrans workers have been killed on the job since 1921.

Every shift Rena Gyarmati fears her husband might be number 184.

"It's very frustrating, and he's come home and told me so many close calls that he's had, and it's like, people slow down.  We have loved ones that we want to come home," said Rena Gyarmati.

Fines doubled in highway work zones can easily add up to more than $1,000, but every day Gyarmati sees evidence that drivers just don't care.

"I walk out there in the middle of the road and here comes a car going 50 miles an hour when the speed limit's 35. I'm trying to patch a pothole that you people are complaining about and you're trying to hit me," said Louis Gyarmati.

Last fall, California was honored nationally for its "Be Work Zone Alert' campaign reminding folks behind the wheel that someone's mom or dad is out on the roads.

But,  Gyarmati says for road workers anywhere to survive their shifts it will take more than commercials -- it will take a change of heart.

"Pay attention, be careful out there, it's hard for us," said Gyarmati.

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