Just a month shy of the three-year anniversary of Lyndon Ebker’s death, legislation has passed the Missouri House that may prevent a similar tragedy from happening in the future.
On Thursday, HB 499, also known as the “Ebker Bill,” passed by a margin of 149 to 5.
Former Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) employee Lyndon Ebker was hit and killed by an elderly driver while cleaning a bridge over Boeuf Creek on Highway 100 between Washington and New Haven in April 2016.
Since the time of his death Ebker’s family and friends have been speaking out about work zone safety in efforts to prevent another unnecessary death.
Ebker’s daughter, Nicole Herbel, who gave an emotional testimony before the House Transportation Committee in January said she is excited about the bill’s passage.
“Is this really happening?,” Herbel said. “I’m relieved to know they are actually listening.”
The bill, sponsored by State Rep. Aaron Griesheimer, R-Washington, would automatically revoke the driver’s license of anyone who strikes in a vehicle a highway worker, first responder or utility worker when they are roadside.
“This is not a sole win,” Griesheimer said. “This is a win for a lot of people. It’s a win for the Ebker family and MoDOT.”
Griesheimer added the bill was the last one voted on Thursday morning by the House before the mid-session break.
“My goal was to get it voted out of the House by spring break,” Griesheimer said. “I’m very pleased it passed with almost complete bipartisan support. It’s not quite at the finish line, but it’s got a good head start.”
Getting the bill to this midway milestone was no easy task with several iterations being voted on at different times and it bouncing back and forth to multiple committees.
Since it was originally filed on Jan. 8 just under 40 individual actions have been taken on the bill and the freshman lawmaker admits there were times he had his doubts if it would make it.
“It really hit a wall at one point,” Griesheimer said. “They say you’re not supposed to get married to your bills, but I’m way across that line now.”
He added the bill has become a memorial in a sense to Ebker’s memory and he thanked everyone involved while speaking about the bill on the House floor.
“I just want to do my best for the family,” Griesheimer said. “I’m doing this for them and it has taken a lot of pieces.”
The bill will now have to run the gauntlet of the Missouri Senate, but Griesheimer feels it has good momentum.
“I personally approached State Sen. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, about handling the bill in the Senate,” Griesheimer said. “He told me he would.”
Schatz’ position as president pro tem, the No. 2 position of the Senate just under the lieutenant governor, gives him control over the calendar a and the flow of legislation in the upper chamber.
He is no stranger to the Ebker family, having co-sponsored legislation in 2017 to name the bridge where Ebker was killed in his honor.
Herbel told The Missourian she has been asked by MoDOT to speak about the bill and her father at the kick off of the annual Work Zone Safety Week in Jefferson City next month.
A similar bill to the House version was introduced in the Senate by State Sen. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, but no action has been taken on it since a Transportation Committee hearing on Feb. 21.
Herbel also testified before the Senate committee, but admitted the process was not as thorough as the House testimony and she didn’t feel as comfortable with the results.