Man Found Guilty I-69 Road Workers’ Deaths
Details of the Fatal Accident and Verdict
This past Wednesday the verdict after a three-day trial was reached in determining the guilt of a man named Jordan Stafford. Stafford, from Fortville, was being tried on the account of two construction workers’ deaths in May of 2014, according to a spokeswoman with the Marion County prosecutor’s office.
The jury found Stafford guilty and he was convicted of two counts of reckless operation of a vehicle in a highway work zone, as well as two counts of failure to obey a traffic control device or flagman in a highway work zone. Stafford is still to face sentencing; however, under Indiana law, drivers who fatally injure a worker in a construction zone can face a felony charge resulting in a minimum of two years and a maximum of eight years in prison, with a maximum fine of $10,000.
Stafford was driving a truck that hit a construction arrow board on I-69 around 5:45 in the morning on May 9 in 2014. The collision killed two construction workers, Coty DeMoss, 24, and Kenneth Duerson Jr., 49. The two men that were killed in the incident were at the end of a work zone removing construction barriers. The arrow board that was hit in the collision was instructing drivers on the road to change lanes.
Stafford’s defense attorney, Courtney Benson-Kooy, argued that the videos taken by other drivers at the time of the accident, that were entered as evidence by the state, revealed that various cars were speeding at that time. Benson-Kooy went on to insist that Stafford had tried to brake but was unable to, which constitutes an accident.
Despite Benson-Kooy’s efforts, prosecutors determined that the speeding of other drivers and the inability for him to break in time were not acceptable claims for innocence. Both sides in the case referenced skid marks that were left by Stafford’s truck. The defense referenced the skid marks in an effort to indicate Stafford was trying to avoid the collision, while prosecutors referenced them as evidence he was driving more than 70 miles per hour. Prosecutors also argued that Stafford had to of been driving fast enough to push the 10,000 pound construction truck 28 feet.
Construction Fatality Statistics
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Safety Administration:
- There were 87,606 crashes in work zones in 2010. This is 1.6% of the total number of roadway crashes (5,419,345) in 2010.
- In 2010 work zone crashes, 0.6% were fatal crashes, 30% were injury crashes, and 69% were property damage only crashes.
- Approximately 70% of road construction site fatalities between 2003 and 2007 occurred between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:59 p.m.
- In 2010, there were 514 fatal motor vehicle crashes in work zones, resulting in 576 fatalities.
- 22% of fatal work zone crashes occurred on urban interstates (compared to 6% of all fatal crashes) in 2008.
- 59% of fatal work zone crashes occurred on roads with speed limit of 55 mph or more (compared to 49% of all fatal crashes) in 2008.