North Carolina Inmate Killed On Roadside Cleaning Crew Lacked Proper Safety Equipment

July 17, 2007, by Michael A. DeMayo

State officials in North Carolina are investigating whether the Department of Correction administrator let a group of inmates work on a six-person roadside cleaning crew last Tuesday without giving them the proper safety equipment that they needed to stay safe on Interstate 40 near Lake Wheeler Road. One of the inmates, Charles Wilson, died after an SUV struck an empty prison van nearby. The van then rolled onto him.

Several inmates and workers at the Wake Correctional Center said that a corrections officer told his supervisor that the crew lacked the proper safety equipment, including road signs to warn motorists of their presence while working in the area. They say that the supervisor disregarded the absence of the equipment. A corrections department spokesperson says that the accusations are being investigated.

The van also struck inmate John Terry and correction officer John McDonald.

Police have charged Frederick Henri Beaujeu-Dufour, a Clinton resident and the man driving the SUV, with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle.

Road Construction Site Injury Statistics

• From 1995-2002, 844 workers died at a road construction site in the US
• More than 50% of these deaths involved motor vehicle accidents

The Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices defines a work zone as:

“an area of a highway with construction, maintenance, or utility work activities. A
work zone is typically marked by signs, channelizing devices, barriers, pavement
markings, and/or work vehicles. It extends from the first warning sign or high-
intensity rotating, flashing, oscillating, or strobe lights on a vehicle to the ‘End Road Work’ sign or the last temporary traffic control device.”

By law, safety markers must be in place to ensure that workers on the road are safe. If North Carolina’s Department of Corrections knowingly allowed the inmates to work on the roads without the proper safety equipment, they could be held liable for the personal injuries and wrongful death sustained by some of the inmates. The driver of the SUV, Frederick Henri Beaujeu-Dufour, could also be held liable for the wrongful death of inmate Charles Wilson.

Inmates in roadside accident lacked safety equipment, Winston-Salem Journal, July 13, 2007

1 North Carolina Inmate Dies, 2 Injured in Roadside Crew Accident,, July 11, 2007

Fatal occupational injuries at road construction sites

Related Web Resource:

Notification of the Work Zone Safety and Mobility Final Rule, U.S. Department of Transporation Federal Highway Administration


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