Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct information provided to the Herald Democrat concerning the injured worker's employer that was incorrect.
Sherman Police said a highway construction worker escaped serious injury early Thursday morning after a vehicle on U.S. Highway 75 hit a traffic barrel that then struck the man.
Sgt. Brett Mullen said the incident occurred in the 3900 block of Hwy. 75, just north of the Sherman Town Center, at approximately 2:30 a.m., but dispatchers were notified of a possible intoxicated driver on the freeway several minutes before the collision. Mullen said a motorist five miles south of the scene called to report that a blue SUV had struck his or her side mirror while headed north on the freeway.
“They followed him through town and that's when they observed him strike a traffic barrel, which then slid across the roadway and hit a TxDOT worker who was using a piece of machinery in the area,” Mullen said of the worker employed by Winding Road Construction, the company contracted by the Texas Department of Transportation to perform concrete repairs on Hwy. 75.
The Sherman Police sergeant said the construction worker was “virtually uninjured” by the barrel, but was taken to an area hospital for treatment and evaluation. Mullen said the driver of the SUV did not stop at the scene and continued north on the highway.
Sherman Police circulated a description of the SUV and officers in Colbert, Oklahoma, were able to locate the vehicle and driver a short time later. Mullen described the driver as an elderly male and said the man was not arrested.
Amid the ongoing investigation, Mullen said investigators were still exploring a possible charge related to the collision with the 911 caller. Mullen encouraged drivers to exercise caution when operating any vehicle on a public roadway.
“Motorists always need to be aware of their surroundings, especially in construction zones,” Mullen said. “Follow the appropriate speed limits that are posted and stay aware of the traffic and other vehicles around you.”
In 2017, TxDOT recorded more than 27,000 work zone crashes statewide, which resulted in 199 fatalities and 813 serious injuries. The agency said the leading causes of work zone crashes are speeding and driver inattention. Traffic fines double in work zones where crews are present and can result in fines as high as $2,000.
TxDOT has advised drivers along Hwy. 75 to be aware of crews' continued presence in Sherman and Denison, as the agency embarks on more than $160 million in improvements to the freeway between between FM 1417 and FM 120.