Archive for Monday, June 2, 2008

Witness describes scene the day two highway workers died

June 2, 2008

A speeding pickup truck twice drove through a restricted highway construction zone south of Lawrence the day two workers were killed last year, according to testimony in Douglas County District Court.

It was during the second drive through on Sept. 11, 2007, that the deaths occurred near Pleasant Grove, witnesses said.

"I yelled, 'get out of the way.' They didn't hear me," said Rollin Jensen, a supervisor for Dustrol Inc., a Towanda firm hired by the state last year to repave U.S Highway 59.

Jensen took the witness stand Monday during a preliminary hearing for Ramona Morgan, a former Washington state woman charged with striking the workers with her truck. She faces two counts of reckless second-degree murder and one count of reckless aggravated battery for injuring a third worker.

The truck drove by a flagger heading north on the highway during the first drive through, Jensen said. He said he motioned for the truck to slow down and then had to jump behind some equipment to keep from being hit, himself.

"They just kept going; didn't even hit a brake light," Jensen said.

Jensen said he also threw a plastic cup full of coffee at the truck as it passed within a few feet of him.

"I got a little upset," he said.

At least 30 minutes later the truck drove through the area again, this time headed south, Jensen said.

Jensen said he saw the truck hit Roland G. Griffith, 24, El Dorado, also a Dustrol employee, and Tyrone T. Korte, 30, Seneca, who worked for the Kansas Department of Transportation. Both died at the scene.

The hearing was expected to last all day. Judge Paula Martin will then decide if there is enough evidence for Morgan to go to trial on the charges.

Morgan is being held in the Douglas County Jail on $200,000 bond.

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