Orange and yellow safety vests filled the room as family and friends of former MoDOT employee Lyndon Ebker gathered for the official dedication of the Highway 100 bridge over Boeuf Creek outside New Haven.
Ebker, 55, New Haven, was killed there on April 7, 2016, by an elderly driver in the work zone where he and his Beaufort maintenance crew were cleaning the bridge after winter salt and snow.
Lyndon’s wife, Beth Ebker, and family were joined at the Beaufort Maintenace facility for the unveiling of memorial road signs by his co-workers, who were all deeply moved by the ceremony and the memories of their friend.
“Lyndon never took a day for granted,” Beth Ebker said. “Until today I knew many of you by name only. Thank you all for making this ceremony possible.”
Immediately after the ceremony, his former crew took the newly unveiled “Lyndon Ebker Memorial Bridge” signs out to the site of his tragic accident and installed them.
Judy Wagner, MoDOT area engineer for Franklin and Jefferson counties and longtime personal friend of Ebker’s, led the ceremony by saying Lyndon would want it to be a celebration.
Ebker had a passion for farming and old tractors, and in his spare time could be found in the fields of his beloved farm.
“Lyndon always said it was his favorite time of year,” Wagner said. “Harvest season. So, let’s celebrate this season and celebrate Lyndon.”
Ed Hassinger, chief MoDOT engineer, worked with Ebker at the St. Clair project office.
“Lyndon always took on the tough jobs,” Hassinger said. “He was a go-to guy. He cared about what happened and wanted to do a good job.”
The bridge dedication was made possible by twin bills filed in both houses of the Missouri Legislature by State Rep. Justin Alferman, R- Hermann, and State Sen. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan.
The bill was one of only 114 passed in the 2017 legislative session and both lawmakers were in attendance for the dedication ceremony, along with MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna.
“I’m hopeful this will honor the life and work of Lyndon,” Alferman said. “It’s the least we can do as a state. I’m also hopeful this will serve as a reminder to all motorists to take care in work zones.”
Schatz, whose Senate version of the bill was eventually signed by Gov. Eric Greitens at a ceremony attended by the Ebker family in Jefferson City, said he was glad to get this done for the family.
“We’re always saddened when something like this occurs,” Schatz said. “I hope this helps ease the burden of mourning.”
Since its inception, there have been 134 MoDOT employees who have died in the line of duty.
Director McKenna said Ebker’s death is yet another sobering reminder of the dangers workers face each day on the roadways.
“It is dangerous work, but it has to be done,” he said. “I hope we never have to do another dedication like this. We need the public to understand they have to take responsibility in work zones.”
McKenna echoed Wagner’s challenge to all Missouri drivers to make a difference and pay special attention while driving in roadway work zones.