Widow shares message for Highway Work Zone Safety Awareness Week

Published: Apr. 3, 2018 at 4:25 PM CDT
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A widow shares her message in anticipation of Highway Work Zone Safety Awareness Week, beginning April 9th.

Karen Burkhalter's husband was killed while on duty in a work zone for the Calumet County High Department.

Derrick Burkhalter was involved in a crash on Highway 114, nearly three years ago.

"My husband and I were friends since I was 12,” Karen said. “So I never had a part of my adult life that I didn't have him in."

Derrick was the first a Calumet County Highway worker killed on duty.

"It was very hard, you know losing an employee of ours," said Brain Glaeser, Calumet County Highway Commissioner.

Karen wants it to be the last.

Her mission is building awareness about following the speed limit, not driving distracted, and moving over for emergency or maintenance vehicles through work zones.

"It's the piece of my husband that I can carry on, that's important,” Karen said. “And it's an opportunity, I have to save, hopefully save somebody else."

Burkhalter will be headed to Washington DC next week to join members of the United Support and Memorial for Workplace Fatalities to discuss workplace safety.

"Like for our Representatives, when they’re voting on a bill or at a hearing, that they can take a step back and remember our personal stories," said Karen.

She hopes her story serves as another reminder about who highway workers are: husbands, fathers, and much more.

"We all deserve to and to make it home at the end of the day," said Karen.