Maintenance work on freeways in Riverside County and across the state was called to a halt Monday in response to the death of a San Diego-area Caltrans worker, with state officials saying they wanted to reinforce safety procedures and reach out to motorists to be alert for workers.
Caltrans worker Richard Gonzalez, 52, of San Ysidro, was struck by a white Cadillac sedan around 8:40 a.m. alongside the northbound Interstate 15 connector to eastbound state Route 94 near Mount Hope, according to Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol. He died at the scene.
The driver, whose name was not immediately available, was arrested. It was unclear what type of charge he might face.
Gonzalez, who had worked for Caltrans since July 2008, is survived by his wife and sons, ages 12 and 22.
He was the third maintenance employee with the state agency to lose his life on the job in the past seven weeks. Landscape worker Stephen Palmer, 64, of Jamul, was struck by a trolley in National City on May 4, and 53-year-old Jaime Obeso of Imperial was hit by a vehicle June 7 on a job site alongside Interstate 8 in the El Centro area.
In response to rash of deaths — the most ever in such a short period of time in the agency’s history — Caltrans implemented a “statewide safety stand down to emphasize safety procedures.” The stand-down includes a halt to all “routine or regularly scheduled highway maintenance activities.”
The agency will post notices on its electronic highway message boards reminding motorists to watch for freeway maintenance crews. Acting Caltrans director Malcolm Dougherty called on motorists to slow down and move over one lane when passing work crews.