Spokesperson for IDOT talks safety reminders when approaching work zones

By Blake Schnitker on March 1 at 12:21pm

One of the IDOT workers involved in Monday’s vehicle vs pedestrian crash on East Morton remains hospitalized, but his condition has been upgraded.

Sixty-four year old Gary Bartels, of Chandlerville, was one of three IDOT employees struck by a truck while conducting road work on East Morton Avenue near the intersection of Mobil Road Monday afternoon.

Currently being treated at HSHS St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Bartels was initially listed in critical condition. Yesterday however, he received some positive news, as a spokeswoman for St. John’s Hospital listed Bartels as being in fair condition.

Bartels suffered the serious injuries when he and two other IDOT workers were struck by a truck being driven by 86-year old Dale Gibbs of South Jacksonville. According to IDOT spokeswoman Kelsea Gurski, the three employees were filling potholes on East Morton Avenue when the crash occurred. In the wake of Monday’s accident, Gurski wants to remind Illlinois drivers how to properly, and legally, approach work zones.

“We strongly urge the public to remain alert at all times when they’re behind the wheel, especially this time of year where there are going to be a lot of crews out repairing potholes. But when you approach any type of work zone, whether it be a small operation like a pothole repair or a large work zone, it’s incredibly important that drivers remain alert, avoid distractions, slow down as they approach the work area, and proceed with extreme caution when approaching the workers out in the field. And if at all possible, we encourage motorists to change lanes and provide extra distance between them and the workers. Anything they can do to keep those workers as safe as possible is incredibly important,” Gurski says.

While Monday’s accident is just one example of a crash happening in the local area, Gurski says IDOT workers are being dispersed throughout the majority of the state, as crews work to repair some of the damage caused by winter weather conditions.

“Our crews are pretty much out in full force throughout the state. The recent swing in temperatures and heavy rainfall that we experienced pretty much throughout the whole state have caused a pretty significant uptick in potholes. So we have crews out throughout the state doing the best that they can to get the potholes repaired so that drivers can stay as safe as possible during their travels,” says Gurski.

As for the other two IDOT workers injured in the accident – 67-year old David Nergenah and 62-year old Bruce Bartlett, both of Jacksonville – they were both treated for their injuries and have since been released.