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National Work Zone Memorial Wall travels to Schaumburg

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It was an emotional day in Schaumburg at the unveiling of the National Work Zone Memorial Wall. It's a traveling memorial with the names of highway workers who were killed on their jobs by drivers in construction zones.

It was an emotional day in Schaumburg at the unveiling of the National Work Zone Memorial Wall. It's a traveling memorial with the names of highway workers who were killed on their jobs by drivers in construction zones.

It is a list of names where no family wants to see a loved one mentioned. But Ryan Nichols' name is on that list. He was a highway worker for the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Nichols was killed one year ago today while working in a construction zone at routes 47 and 14 in far northwest suburban Woodstock.

"I will never forget that day," said father Jim Nichols. "Ryan had a smile that could light up a room, and he could make his mother smile when she had a bad day."

The pain is still just beneath the surface for Ryan's dad, trying to speak about his son at IDOT headquarters in Schaumburg, standing before the work zone traveling memorial wall that bears his son's name.

The Nichols family was on hand, not only to remember Ryan, but to remind every driver on the roads to slow down in construction zones, stop texting, get off the phone and pay attention.

"This construction season, IDOT has already seen three workers killed. That is unacceptable and it must stop," said IDOT Secretary of Transportation Ann Schneider.

Every year, Illinois averages more than 7,000 crashes in work zones, sometimes injuring or killing not only workers but drivers and their passengers.

From one family who has experienced it, the solution is a simple one:

"Everyone needs to know it can happen to them," said Jim Nichols. "You not only need to slow down, but you need to pay attention to your surroundings."

Ryan Nichols left behind a wife and three children, including a set of twins.

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