Teen Roadside Worker Killed When Struck by Car Off I-35 in Oklahoma

A 19-year-old worker and two others were injured at a roadside construction site in Oklahoma when a car crashed into them.

According to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, three employees of Wildcat Construction based in Wichita, Kansas, were working on a bridge embankment March 25 off southbound I-35 near Tonkawa when they were struck by a car that ran off the road. The car, a 2014 Dodge Avenger, was being driven by a 17-year-old boy who allegedly fell asleep at the wheel. Three other passengers were in the car.

The impact killed Jacob Matuszczak, 19, and injured Alexis Batres, 19, and Wayne Thomas, 62. All three are from Wichita. Batres was hospitalized in critical condition. Thomas was treated and released.

The Highway Patrol reported that the car’s driver remained on the scene and cooperated with the investigation. Neither he nor his passengers was injured. The patrol’s traffic homicide unit is investigating and will present its findings to the Kay County district attorney, the agency says.

“This is yet another reminder to stay alert and watch for vehicles and/or workers on the side of the road,” the highway patrol said.

According to the National Work Zone Safety website, fatal work zone crashes have risen nearly 30% between 2018 and 2021. There were 874 fatal work zone crashes in 2021, killing 956 people. An estimated 29,000 work zone crashes resulted in injuries in 2021, according to the site. In all, the site reports 106,000 work zone crashes in 2021.

The 2024 National Work Zone Awareness Week is scheduled for April 15-19. It will be hosted by Maryland Department of Transportation with the theme of “Work Zones are temporary. Actions behind the wheel can last forever.” The kick-off event is scheduled for April 16. For more information, go to NWZAW website