SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn — Two Tennessee Department of Transportation contractors are dead, and a third worker as well as a Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper have been taken to the hospital following a multiple-vehicle crash on I-40 near Arlington.
THP said the trooper was struck while he was in his patrol vehicle. He went to the hospital with non-critical injuries, according to a spokesperson at the scene.
SmartWay cameras show a tractor-trailer in the grassy area near mile marker 26. TDOT reported the crash early Wednesday morning just before 4 a.m.
The two employees who died, identified as 30-year-old Justin Stafford and 22-year-old Jared Helton, lived in Salyersville, Kentucky and worked for A & A Safety out of Ohio. Another employee, Cody Cantrell, was hurt in the crash and is still in the hospital.
The contractor was working in a mobile work zone within a lane closure, replacing reflective snow plowable markers along the interstate, according to Nichole Lawrence with the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
“We are deeply saddened at the tragic event that claimed two young lives this morning,” said TDOT Commissioner Clay Bright. “This is a stark reminder of the dangers our highway construction workers face each day as they work to better Tennessee’s transportation system. I speak for everyone at TDOT when I say our thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends, and co-workers of these two young men.”
Bright emphasized that drivers should pay close attention when driving through construction areas, and to slow down and move over when possible.
"You could literally save a life,” he said.
A&A Safety's president Bill Luttmer offered his condolences to the victims' families, saying a loss like this has never happened in his company before since it opened in the 1980s.
“In 35 years of business, we have never lost an employee. Today, we must come to terms with the loss of two valued members of our team. Right now, our focus is on the needs of their families during this extremely difficult time. Our thoughts, prayers, and support also go out to those injured in today’s crash,” he said.
A&A Safety began working on the stretch of I-40 near the Arlington exit in July and recently returned to finish the job.