On April 7, 2016, Nicole Herbel of Rosebud answered a phone call from her husband who said her father was killed in the line of duty. A driver struck Lyndon Ebker with his vehicle in a road construction zone. Ebker, who was flagging drivers in eastern Missouri’s Franklin County, flew 41 feet before coming to a rest.

Family members surround Nicole Herbel as she speaks during MoDOT press conference

“My entire world flipped upside down in that moment,” Herbel says. “The pain today is as strong as it was on April 7, 2016. I was in disbelief for months.”

Ebker, 55, had been a MoDOT employee for 33 years. He had retired and didn’t like retired life. So, he went back to working part-time for the department.

Ebker is not the only fallen MoDOT crew member. Since 2000, 19 Missouri Department of Transportation workers have been killed in the line of duty – an average of one per year.

During a ceremony Monday to recognize National Work Zone Awareness Week, Herbel pleaded with drivers to protect road maintenance crews by paying attention and slowing down in work zones. The heavy road construction season is gearing up and it coincides with the busy road travel season.

Now that her father is gone, Herbel says thousands of conversations replay in her head and bittersweet memories of the greatest man she says she’s ever known.

The MoDOT Fallen Worker Memorial is located near the Capitol in Jefferson City (2019 photo courtesy of MoDOT’s Cathy Morrison)

Today, the bridge along Highway 100 where Herbel’s father lost his life has been named in Ebker’s honor. Two signs on the bridge hold his name.

“Those signs should never have been there,” Herbel says. “One second of not paying attention ended the life and changed many other lives forever. No one should have to lose their life the way that my dad lost his.”

The driver, now 83-years-old, was not jailed. More than two years after the crash, Norman Haimila had his license taken away for life. He pleaded guilty last November in Franklin County to aggravated endangerment of a highway worker and has been fined $10,000.