by Clyde Weiss | April 22, 2013
AFSCME is mourning the death today of Lee Rizor, 27, a highway technician with the Ohio Department of Transportation and a member of Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA)/AFSCME Local 11.
Rizor, a resident of Mount Gilead, Ohio, was operating a backhoe, clearing debris behind a guardrail along Interstate 71, just north of Columbus, when a tractor trailer struck his vehicle, Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Dir. Jerry Wray said in a statement.
ODOT reported that the commercial vehicle’s driver was rushed to a nearby medical center in critical condition.
Calling Rizor “a dedicated highway worker with more than five years of service to the department,” Wray said. “He left home this morning with the expectation that he would return to his family at the end of the work day unharmed. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Rizor family during this very difficult time.”
“Today the loss of one our own is a sobering reminder of the dangerous work we do as Ohio public employees and how many public servants put their lives on the line on a daily basis,” said OCSEA Pres. Christopher Mabe, also an AFSCME International vice president.
Rizor was a member of OCSEA Delaware Chapter 2100. Chapter Pres. Amy Turner has asked that the OCSEA union family keep Rizor’s wife, two young children, family members and ODOT colleagues in their thoughts and prayers during this most difficult time.
“Our thoughts go out to Rizor’s loved ones and please know that his ultimate sacrifice as a public servant will never be forgotten,” said Mabe.
Rizor’s death comes just days before AFSCME and the unions of the AFL-CIO observe Workers Memorial Day on April 28. The day is designated to remember those who have suffered and died on the job, and to renew the fight for safe workplaces.
Of particular concern are highway construction zones. In Ohio, the number of vehicle-related deaths in construction zones doubled from eight in 2009 to 16 in 2011, reports ODOT, which also notes that April 15-19 was National Work Zone Awareness Week.