Jacob Steed, 19, was on his way to classes at MSU in West Plains Sept. 25.
"It was exactly 5 p.m. The accident happened four miles north of Thayer on Highway 63," he said.
There has been extensive road construction underway between Thayer and West Plains in an effort to construct passing lanes along that portion of Highway 63 the past couple of months. Flagmen are stopping south and north bound lanes of traffic and letting them through the construction one side of the roadway at a time.
Steed was in the line of traffic that was flowing. "I saw what I call a box-truck behind an SUV (driven by Deborah Holloway, who was parked behind the flagman and was injured in the accident). I guess the guy driving the box truck saw that the semi was not going to be able to stop. The box truck went around the SUV. The semi then hit the SUV," Steed said.
The Holloway vehicle turned over in the middle of the highway. The semi lost control. Steed said he saw the flagman, Mikey W. Workman, jump the ditch but the semi flipped-over and landed on him.
Steed said he continued on up to the accident scene and called for an Oregon County Ambulance and a state trooper.
"The truck driver, Edward Lafleur, was very upset about the accident. I even let him use my cell phone to call whoever it was he needed to call. It was an 800 number but it was ironic the next three numbers were 264, and it was not a Thayer number," he said.
"The truck driver was very upset over what had just happened. He said he was happy he was getting to go home to his family, but also said the flagger (Workman) that was dead, would not be going home to his family. He seemed like a really nice guy and was sorry about the accident," Steed said.
So, what does a young man who just witnessed a tragic accident do? A couple of days following the accident, he went to his friends, Kenny and Doris Brown of Thayer, and asked Kenny to build a cross to be placed at the accident scene.
"I'm a Christian. I have been my whole life. I am also a member of the Clifton Masonic Lodge 463 in Thayer. I just felt like it was something that needed to be done to show respect," Steed said.
Steed said he hopes the memorial helps slow down traffic. "I have a lot of sympathy for the flagger that was killed. My dad flipped a semi back in the 1980s. It was not his fault. He was trying to keep other people from being hurt." Steed's family is involved in Steed Brother's Trucking in Thayer.
The memorial is a simple wooden cross surrounded by flowers and covered with a flagman's orange vest.
"He (Workman, the flagman killed) was just a guy doing his job. Trying to improve our community. I've got a big heart," Steed said.
Public G Safety Officer Sgt. Marty Elmore said the accident was indeed tragic. "We have been trying to increase the presence of officers in work zone areas the past couple of years," he said.
Troop G Missouri Highway Patrol Zone Seven Supervisor Ray Rees from Thayer said, "We (the patrol) have been very aggressive in highway work zones, not only in Oregon County, but across the state, to help out not only workers, but also officers working accident scenes. We are aggressively enforcing tougher traffic laws. It's a hard effort. Hopefully, people will start paying more attention in these work zones and slow down," Trooper Rees said.
Since the accident, Steed has quit going to classes at MSU. He said the accident had nothing to do with that decision. He was studying fire science technology and thought about becoming a firefighter. At one time he volunteered for the Oregon County Emergency Medical Service and also volunteered for the Koshkonong Fire Department. He is a Missouri Certified First Responder.
Steed is a 2008 graduate of Thayer High School. He is the son of Butch and Donna Steed of Thayer and is currently seeking employment with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.