‘Slap in the face:’ Families say MoDOT never held ceremony for memorial signs after loved ones killed in work zone crash

Published: Nov. 3, 2023 at 6:16 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KMOV) -- The families of two Missouri highway workers killed when a car crashed through their work zone claims the state skipped a step honoring them.

This November marks two years since Kaitlyn Anderson, who was six months pregnant with a son named Jaxx, and James Brooks were killed while working on a MoDOT striping crew on Telegraph Road at I-255 in St. Louis County.

A third MoDOT worker, Michael Brown, was left with lifelong injuries.

Earlier this year, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed a bill naming the bridge on Telegraph Road next to the crash site for Anderson, and I-70 in St. Louis City and St. Louis County for Brooks.

The families claim MoDOT was supposed to install memorial signs and help coordinate a dedication ceremony.

This week Anderson’s mom, Tonya Musskopf, says she was driving on the Telegraph Road bridge when she spotted a memorial sign for her daughter.

“This is a big slap in the face,” Musskopf said. “They don’t care that she is no longer with us, they don’t care she can’t be a mother, and they didn’t even care enough to give her a naming ceremony for a bridge that the governor signed for her.”

Musskopf says she called James Brooks’ wife, Brigit Brooks, and asked if the sign for her husband was also installed. Brigit Brooks said MoDOT never contacted her about her husband’s sign, which has also been installed.

“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, that James’ sign was up there without my knowledge,” Brigit Brooks said. “I was hurt. I pulled over and just burst into tears.”

A MoDOT spokesperson sent First Alert 4 Investigates a statement saying, “We are not providing comment at this time due to pending litigation.”

It’s not uncommon for MoDOT to hold ceremonies when they dedicate a road or bridge.

There is no lawsuit involving the memorial signs. Anderson’s family is suing MoDOT for negligence and wrongful death. The case is currently before the Missouri Supreme Court.

Both families are pushing for safety changes at MoDOT.

First Alert 4 Investigates exposed how multiple supervisors were disciplined over the crash for not following safety standards. Reporting by the I-Team uncovered how MoDOT has more than 300 trucks and trailers designed to protect crews called Truck and Trailer Mounted Attenuators (TMAs) but are not always used and weren’t with the crew the day of the deadly crash.

The driver in the crash was not charged. St. Louis County prosecutors claim he was a diabetic suffering from a medical episode when the crash happened. First Alert 4 Investigates uncovered the driver was in another crash three months before, where police noted it was medically related.

“We’re supposed to just go on with our life. It’s hard when you have no closure, no accountability. My husband is gone,” Brigit Brooks said.

The families are planning on holding their own dedication ceremony on November 18 at 5 p.m. at Bee Tree County Park in south St. Louis County.