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ARDOT emphasizing road safety after worker dies from hit-and-run

Winfred Petty, who was an ARDOT employee for nearly 25-years, was crossing the westbound lanes of I-30 near Scott Hamilton Drive around 8 p.m. Tuesday night.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Wednesday proved to be a tough day for the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT), following a hit-and-run on Tuesday night.

"Every construction zone fatality we have is not a good thing," Dave Parker, spokesperson for ARDOT, said. "As we see in a matter of seconds someone's life can be lost and if you're the driver, obviously your life can change."

Winfred Petty, who was an ARDOT employee for nearly 25-years, was crossing the westbound lanes of I-30 near Scott Hamilton Drive around 8 p.m. Tuesday night.

Petty was heading across to set-up construction signs, when a black SUV hit him and fled the scene, according to the crash summary.

Following the hit-and-run, Petty was transported to UAMS, but died shortly after. 

An investigation into the incident has now been started by Arkansas State Police (ASP).

Those with ARDOT are still feeling the impact of Petty's death.

"By all accounts-- left home, went to work, and planned on doing his job and returning home," Parker said. "It's just sad to think about it."

Petty's death comes as ARDOT is still mourning the loss of another employee.

Kurt Cottier was hit on I-40 near Morrilton back in December. He later died from his injuries and was only with the department for about three months.

Both of these deaths are emphasizing safety for ARDOT.

"It just reminds us that we've got to slow down," Parker said. "You will see construction zone accidents, fatalities, crashes, as a huge emphasis for ARDOT very, very soon."

This isn't to say that ARDOT doesn't already emphasize safety – they do. Parker said sometimes it takes moments like this for advice to stick.

He said employees across the state are already having conversations about work zone safety. 

For drivers, safety is also top of mind to avoid someone else unnecessarily losing their life.

"We'll do that on our end, but again, it comes down to the driving public and they've got to slow down and be aware that we're out there and for good reason," Parker said. "The man was trying to work and do a job for you and this happens."

We reached out to ASP for a comment about the investigation, but they said they were unable to comment as the investigation is ongoing.