Mother reflects on the life of her son who was killed while working along I-94

Posted at 6:36 AM, Apr 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-11 09:20:16-04

(WXYZ) — This week is the kickoff to Work Zone Awareness Week, a national holiday dedicated to keeping everyone on our roads safe—including construction workers.

According to the Michigan Department of Transportation, in 2021 there were 5,047 crashes in construction zones, 19 of those crashes were deadly and 3 construction workers were among those killed.

Lawmakers have tried passing new legislation to protect these workers, but so far nothing new is on the books.

In September of 2020, construction worker Zach Morisette was killed along I-94 and 9 Mile Road.

Two weeks ago today, the man sentenced for his death was released from jail after serving 6 months of his 7-month jail sentence.

“Zach, he loved his family more than anything, he was very protective of his family,” Zach's mom Dawn Morisette said.

On the eastbound lanes of I-94 in Saint Clair shores near 9 Mile Road, there is a cross marking the spot where 26-year-old Zach Morisette was killed.

He was hit by a car while he was working on the roads.

“It has been a nightmare, you know, I just keep thinking he is going to walk to the door again or call me," his mom said. "There is no more of that anymore.”

Since Zach's death, there have been some efforts to make work zones safer, but nothing on the books.

“We are just in a holding pattern," Morisette said. "I think we have to do something.”

State representative Gary Eisen was the first to introduce legislation to put cameras in construction zones. These cameras would help track down drivers going too fast, but the future of his bill looks bleak.

Recently the Michigan Senate voted in favor of a bill prohibiting photographic traffic signal enforcement leaving representative Eisen's bill in limbo.

"As of right now, it is in judiciary committee under rec filler, and I don’t think they have the votes to get out of committee at this time,” he said.

For the Morisette family, a camera could have made a difference.

"The man that killed Zach never stopped, so had a camera been there we would have been able to find him soon," Zach's mom said. "It took him a few days to turn himself in, so at that time we don’t know if he was drinking or what is was doing.”

The Morisette family hopes speaking publicly will help save other road workers.

"Slow down, change lanes, be aware of road workers and signs.”

On Monday, MDOT will be holding an event to kick off work zone awareness week.

They are urging people to wear orange on Wednesday to show support.