Karen Smith, Stacey Moyer

Karen Smith, left, and Stacey Moyer say they'd like to see changes made in state laws to better protect road crew workers. David Smith was killed and  Jeffrey Moyer seriously injured in a September 2017 accident while the two were part of a Franconia Township Public Works crew doing line painting. 


FRANCONIA — It's been almost two years since David Smith was killed and Jeffrey Moyer badly injured while the two Franconia Township Public Works employees were part of a crew doing line painting Sept. 5, 2017, on the road in front of West Broad Street Elementary School.

Luciana Stock, now 22, of Souderton, was driving at 39 miles per hour when she looked away from the road for 6.3 seconds and hit the workers, investigators said. She was sentenced earlier this year to 11½ to 23 months in jail, five years probation and 100 hours of community service.    

Changes to state laws are needed to try to prevent similar incidents in the future, Smith's and Moyer's wives say.

"When you look up the Pennsylvania work zone guides for municipalities, a lot of what the road crews set up as far as safety is considered guidelines," Karen Smith said. "They aren't law in Pennsylvania."

The guidelines were being followed as the four-man crew worked that day, Smith and Stacey Moyer said, but they'd like to see the guidelines, which are for both municipal workers and utility company workers, changed into law and expanded.

"Our concern is, with this day and age, the distracted driving that goes on — and we all see it as we pass people on the roads — that instead of guidelines, can we make more stringent laws as far as what the road crews are required to have," Smith said.

More should be done to let drivers know they are approaching a road crew, Moyer and Smith said. 

"When we come across these people, they are not safe. They're not being guarded or protected," Moyer said. 

"They'll have — if they're lucky — a couple cones, flashing lights on the back of their truck," Smith said. 

One of the requirements should be that there are more workers at the job site, Smith and Moyer said.

Options under the guidelines include things such as road closure, having law enforcement on hand, flaggers, rumble strips, changeable message signs and lighting devices, they said.

There was one flagger on the day of the accident, they said.

"That's more than a one-person job," Smith said. 

"If they would have had somebody directing on each end, this probably wouldn't have happened," she said. Had that been the case, the flagger would have seen the approaching car and been able to give a warning, she said.

Moyer said rumble strips would've brought the driver's attention back to the road.  

Safety precautions at the accident scene included traffic control cones and a dump truck with a utility trailer that had its four-way warning light blinking, investigators said. 

Moyer said she realizes some of the safety features can inconvenience drivers, but it's more important to keep people safe.

"It's somebody's life that we're talking about, and that's someone's husband or wife or father or brother or sister, and to me, that's worth it," Moyer said. "Having been through the hell that we've been through, it's worth it."

Municipal officials should follow through to make sure everything possible is being done to make sure the road crews are kept safe, Smith and Moyer said.

Sovereign immunity laws keep the municipality free from civil or criminal liability, they said.   

Franconia was not required to contact the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration about the accident and didn't do so, Smith and Moyer said.

"Somebody died and somebody was seriously injured. Why on earth wouldn't OSHA be investigating?" Smith said.

Both Smith and Moyer had worked for Franconia for more than 25 years, their wives said.

The township portrayed its response to the accident as being a family, but that wasn't the case, the women said.

"They ran it like a business and not like a family, which is what we were told was going to happen, but then don't call us a family," Moyer said.

"Their biggest concern here — this was devastating for them, don't get me wrong — but was just to make sure they came out of this unscathed," Smith said. 

People in the community incorrectly assume there was a financial settlement and have told her adult children they're glad the township is taking care of her, Smith said. Many people think she is continuing to receive her husband's job benefits, she said. 

Instead, she said, the township initially said it would end health insurance benefits for her and her children by the end of 2017. After she went to the municipality with her lawyer, the health insurance was extended another year for her and two children remaining in college, but the township health insurance coverage ended at the end of 2018, she said. The township said it was going above and beyond in extending the coverage past September 2017, she said.

Workmen's compensation provides her with a portion of what her husband's pay was, Smith said. Life insurance through the township paid out $100,000 — $50,000 for his death and an additional $50,000 because it happened on the job, she said.

More than half of that money has already been spent between home expenses and funeral costs, she said. 

"I just don't like the public assuming that we were so well taken care of," Smith said. "Dave would've hated that." 

Smith and Moyer each received $15,000 from Stock's insurance company, they said.

Jeff Moyer remains out of work and on workmen's compensation, his wife said. 

"I don't know if he will ever return to a job or a full-time position. His injuries are such that he is in a lot of pain every day," she said. 

The injuries include brain damage, she said. 

"He's doing really well, considering his injuries, but it has drastically changed his life," Moyer said. 

Initially, there was uncertainty if he would be able to walk or talk again, she said. 

"He's doing all that, he's doing well, but it's just a different life for him," Moyer said, "and it's a hard life for him and the kids."

Smith and Moyer said they recognize that the Stock family has also been hurt by the accident. 

Franconia Township Manager Jon Hammer said he could not comment for this article because the township was notified by Smith's attorney after the accident of potential litigation.

"When litigation's threatened, we really can't talk about it, unfortunately," he said.

No lawsuits were filed and none are planned, Smith said.

Most people don't think about how dangerous it is for road crews, but it wasn't unusual for her husband to say a driver had just missed hitting him,  Moyer said. 

"There were multiple times a year he would come home and say, 'Well, I almost got hit today, this lady was driving by with her cell phone," or 'I almost got hit today, this guy wasn't watching,'" she said.

"It just came with the job," she said, "but there are a lot of crews of people on the road and they are dangerous all the time." 

If what happened almost two years ago can bring about some changes, then at least something good will have come from it, Smith said. 

"We're just a completely different family right now and you can't understand it unless you're in it," she said.     

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