By BILL DRAPER
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri Department of Transportation worker honored earlier this week for 15 years of service was killed early Friday after a car driven by an allegedly drunken motorist struck him on a suburban Kansas City highway as he was helping reroute traffic around the scene of a four-vehicle crash.
Jackson County prosecutors filed a first-degree involuntary manslaughter charge against David Murdick, 35, of Blue Springs, on Friday afternoon. Authorities said shortly before 3 a.m. Friday, Murdick drove through cones and flares that had been placed on Interstate 70 in Independence and struck motorist-assist worker Clifton Scott, 50, of Kansas City.
Murdick then struck Scott's truck, causing it to burst into flames, authorities said. Scott was pronounced dead at the scene, while Murdick was transported to a hospital for injuries sustained in the crash.
A search warrant was obtained to draw blood from Murdick at the hospital, and prosecutors said tests showed his blood alcohol content hours after the crash was .184, more than twice the legal limit to drive. Mike Mansur, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office, said it was unclear whether Murdick had an attorney.
Murdick's condition wasn't immediately available from the hospital late Friday afternoon.
"Clifton was a leader among our motorist-assist crew," said Jennifer Benefield, a spokeswoman for the transportation department office in Lee's Summit. "He was very honest, hard-working and a good family provider. He was a dedicated worker who loved what he did."
Scott joined the department in June of 1997 as a maintenance crew worker and was later promoted to intermediate and then senior crew worker, the department said. He became part of the motorist-assist crew in August of 2002. The department held a celebration Monday marking his 15 years of service.
Benefield said a counselor was made available to Scott's co-workers Friday, and the department's motorist-assist service was to be shut down at least until Monday in the Kansas City area.
"He will be missed terribly," Benefield said. "While we do everything we can to provide our operators with the very best in training and equipment, the work that motorist assist does is inherently dangerous. Once again we put a call out to those traveling through work zones and incident scenes to please drive with caution and with attention."
Department spokesman Bob Brendel, who's based at the headquarters in Jefferson City, said Scott is the first department employee to be killed this year, and the fifth since 2000.
"Just this summer our employees association installed a new memorial to fallen workers right here in Jefferson City, between our building and the Capitol," Brendel said. "It's unfortunate there will have to be another name added to it."
Gov. Jay Nixon on Friday expressed his condolences and urged motorists to slow down in work zones and accident scenes.
"Public service is a high calling, and many Missouri public servants willingly put themselves in harm's way each day to protect us," Nixon said in a statement. "Clifton Scott gave his life while working to safeguard others. Our prayers and condolences are with the family and friends of this dedicated public servant."