Daughter of TDOT worker killed on job wants drivers to slow down, move over

Special Reports

It’s a reality for emergency roadside workers that Sarah Tolentino knows all too well. 

“[There are] days I don’t want to get out of bed,” said Tolentino. 

Tolentino’s father, David Younger, died on the job while working for the Tennessee Department of Transportation in 2016

Tolentino told News 2 sitting in the pews of Woodson Chapel Church of Christ – the church her father loved – gives her solace.  

“Just to know he was here and how much he loved this place,” said Tolentino. 

At 65 years old, Younger became the 110th TDOT worker killed on the job. 

“Saying goodbye is important because I never got a chance to say goodbye to him,” his daughter said.  

Younger was changing a tire on the side of Interstate 40, just past Dickson, when he was hit and killed by a semi in April 2016. 

“David Younger was more than just a name, more than a person on the side of the road, more than a TDOT worker,” said Tolentino. “He was my dad.” 

MORE: TDOT worker killed in line of duty was ‘loved by so many’

Todd Stepp was the first TDOT HELP operator on that scene. 

“I didn’t realize it was one of our guys,” said Stepp. “It was a hard day.” 

Younger’s death highlights the risk emergency roadside crews face every single day. 

So far in 2018, TDOT has on record at least 43 workers injuries statewide. 

Stepp, himself, has had countless close calls. 

“I’ve had people drive through my work zones. I’ve had to jump over guard rails,” said Stepp.  

Stepp and his team are often first on the scene of a crash, creating a safe area for TDOT and first responders. 

“A lot of people will run up on our scenes and get over at the last minute and that’s when it gets dangerous,” said Stepp.  

Tennessee’s Move Over Law aims to protect roadside workers, but that largely lies in the hands of those behind the wheel. 

When you see TDOT HELP trucks, move over, slow down, and just make sure you’re situationally aware because TDOT workers could be going into the middle of the road to pick up debris.  

“We are so close to this flow of traffic, that just shows the dangers of the job here. On the right, those cars are moving, not paying attention,” said Stepp. 

“I can’t tell you how many times since he passed away, I move over, and I see people whizz past me,” said Tolentino. 

Tolentino said since her father’s death, she wants one thing to stick with drivers. 

“If you’re driving past a crew, think of passing my dad’s shoe. Pass the crew, think of the shoe. Put yourself in those shoes,” said Tolentino. “If you were on the side of the interstate, what would you want people to do?” 

“If one person can be saved and not killed the way he was, it’s worth my time,” said Tolentino. 

The driver of the semi that hit Younger currently lives in Texas. 

A court date in Hickman County is set for March 2019, near the three-year anniversary of Younger’s death. 

Click here to read more stories from our “Dangerous Drivers” special.

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