Worker killed by roller whilst laying asphalt

Worker killed by roller whilst laying asphalt20-year-old killed doing road work attended MJC (Modesto, California) A 20-year-old Escalon man and Modesto Junior College student was killed when he was run over by a 10-wheel street roller while repaving a section of road in a residential neighborhood in Napa.Christopher Meeks was part of a road crew from the Modesto-based Western States Surfacing Inc., a contractor and asphalt-rubber supplier that is repaving numerous roads in Napa.Meeks was reportedly smoothing a section of freshly laid asphalt around 9 a.m. Saturday when he was struck and run over by the 40,000-pound Caterpillar vehicle.Napa police said Meeks sustained “serious head and upper body injuries” and was rushed to Queen of the Valley Hospital in Napa, where he was later pronounced dead.Napa police Cmdr. Jeff Troendly said Meeks’ death “appears to be an accident,” but the department has launched an investigation to determine if the driver of the street roller will be charged with a crime.The California office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is looking into whether unsafe working conditions were a factor, Troendly said.Meeks, a 2002 Beyer High School graduate, had worked for Western States Surfacing for only three days, according his father, David Meeks. He had recently left a six-month stint at a local security company because road work was a better fit with his class schedule at MJC.David Meeks said the circumstances surrounding his son’s death are unclear to him. He said his son was initially hired as a flagger, but that the crew had him spreading hot tar on the pavement with a rake.He said his son complained to him last week about poor visibility on the job site because he had to stand next to a smoky tar machine.”They had him standing below the tar machine and he told me about how the smoke would get into his eyes and he would have a hard time seeing anything,” David Meeks said. “I don’t know if that’s what he was doing Saturday. We haven’t been able to get any details about it.”In a statement released Monday, Greg Reed, Western States Surfacing president, said: “We wish to extend our greatest sympathies and condolences to the family and friends of Chris Meeks.”While we believe all safety precautions were being taken we have temporarily stopped all construction operations pending the completion of our investigation.”David Meeks said his son had a love of music and had recently decided to become a radiologist. He also loved classic cars and owned a refurbished 1963 Thunderbird.”He was friendly and outgoing, and just a great kid,” David Meeks said. “We’re grieving pretty hard right now.”Bee staff writer Joel Hood can be reached at 238-4574 or jhood@modbee.com.

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