Utility worker shares his accident story as co-workers narrowly - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Utility worker shares his accident story as co-workers narrowly avoid another drunk driving accident on the same block

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Madison (WKOW)-- This Winter has been tough on Madison Water Utility workers who have been out several times already this season. So far there has been 346 water main breaks in the city of Madison. Monday night a crew narrowly avoided being hit while working on a break in the 1800 block of Stoughton Road.

The accident happened around 11:30 p.m. and involved an alleged drunk driver who hit the crew's trailer. A very similar situation happened just nine months earlier, on the same street, just a few hundred feet away. Only in this situation, one utility worker wasn't as lucky.

"For the first few months after the accident my life was pretty messed up. I couldn't do anything on my own. My wife had to dress me for two months," Madison Water Utility worker Jim Garde says.

"My kids were shaken up. My son wouldn't leave my side. Whenever my doctor would mention the word surgery, my son would ask if I was going to die. It was pretty emotional."

On Wednesday, Garde visited the scene of his accident for the first time since he was hit back on February 15th 2014. He remembers every moment, every detail of that life-changing night.

"This is about where I was laying after the car hit me. My hard hat flew off," Garde says while pointing to a spot on the grass along Stoughton Road.

Thinking back on his accident, Garde contemplates what might have happened if his supervisor hadn't warned him about the car. His warning gave Garde enough time to jump out of the way, but his right leg and shoulder were still hit by the passing car.

"If he hadn't warned me, would I be in a wheelchair? Would I be dead? There are a lot of different things I think about," Garde explains.

To this day Garde is still recovering from his injuries. The accident broke his leg in several places and severely damaged his shoulder. His physical therapy should help him get back to his old job of repairing water mains, but until then he can only perform light work duties with the Madison Water Utility.

"It'd be nice to have my life back from before the accident happened, but we're still just dealing with everything," says Garde.

The Department of Transportation estimates that a work zone fatality happens every 15 hours in the U.S. This Winter drivers should expect to see plenty of crews working near popular roadways. It's not only utility crews, but also electrical workers, law enforcement officers and construction workers.

"You're never in too much of a hurry to get someplace when it could end up taking somebody's life if you're not careful enough," Garde says.

The Madison Water Utility is about to head into their busy season from December to March. The utility asks that you pay attention when driving through work zones.


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Madison (WKOW)-- This Winter has been tough on Madison Water Utility workers who have been out several times already this season. So far there has been 346 water main breaks in the city of Madison. Monday night a crew narrowly avoided being hit while working on a break in the 1800 block of Stoughton Road.

All of the utility workers are okay, but their work trailer was hit by the alleged drunk driver who took the turn too sharply. The accident comes just nine months after a very similar accident on the very same block. On February 15th a Madison Utility worker was significantly injured by a drunk driver who ran into him. He broke his leg in several areas and suffered significant damage to his shoulder.

Tonight on 27 News at 6:00 p.m. Gordon Severson shares his story of survival and his important safety message to the community.
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