Wife of highway worker slain on the job talks memorial unveiled at NYS Fair

Onondaga County

'A very sobering experience'

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR) — No matter how many years pass, Oct. 28, 2016 is a day Sally Deming will never be able to forget. Her husband, Rob, was killed in the line of duty as a maintenance worker on the New York State Thruway that day.

When you get that call, your first reaction is, “No, that’s not true! Are you sure?” And that’s after the scream obviously.

Sally Deming
widow of highway worker killed on the job

Five years later, Ron’s life and the lives of over 50 other highway workers were remembered by the brand new New York State Department of Transportation Highway Workers Memorial at the New York State Fair. “Ironically, he was the one always talking to new hires and telling them how important safety was,” Deming said.

The memorial sits at the intersection of Hiawatha Ave and Broadway on the New York State fairgrounds and Deming was there Sunday morning alongside Governor Kathy Hochul and numerous state and local leaders to dedicate the site. 

“It’s a very sobering experience, but our family couldn’t have been more grateful and proud of everyone that’s put this together,” Deming said.

Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said this memorial has been in the works for quite some time and the design of the traffic cones, hard hats, boots, and shovel was a team effort. “It really symbolizes in many ways the incredible amount of work that goes on to operate, maintain, and literally construct our vast network of roads and bridges across the state,” she said. 

Deming said she hopes this memorial makes people stop and take pause to remember those who have lost their lives, and to encourage drivers to think twice about checking a cell phone or being distracted. “If you move six inches one way or another it could mean everything for that person that’s working on the ground, so move over that’s all, just move over.” It could be the difference between life and death. 

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