According to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT), 85 people represented by ribbons near Interstate 235 and NE 36 Street were killed in Oklahoma highway work zones over the last five years.
Justin Gates survived the recent crash on State Highway 76 near Blanchard, but nearly three weeks later, he is still in the intensive care unit at a local hospital.
What happened at that construction site on April 13, Jamie Cleveland said, was proof that life can change in a matter of seconds.
“I will be forever grateful to this man,” she said.
Cleveland was first in line at Gates' flagging station that afternoon.
“He told me, ‘It’s going to be a minute,’ and I told him, ‘I understand, my husband does this exact same job,’” Cleveland explained.
Approaching the work zone behind her was a pickup that apparently was not going to stop in time.
“His instinct saved my life,” she said.
Gates shouted to get Cleveland’s attention so she could avoid being hit.
“I vividly remember him saying, ‘Get off the road now!’ And that’s when I floored it and I could hear him and see him waving his flag at the other driver saying, ‘Stop! Stop!’ and then it was too late,” Cleveland told News 9.
Gates was hit and reportedly thrown roughly 80 feet. He has had countless surgeries and is still in critical condition.
“This has to be a part of a bigger plan. Something has to come of this,” Cleveland said at ODOT’s work zone awareness event Monday afternoon.
Gates’ bravery has given Cleveland the courage to help with ODOT's campaign, speaking out for the hero who can't speak for himself right now.
“Put your phones down. Put your worries aside when you’re on the road. Your only worry needs to be the road,” she said.
Monday morning, a few miles south of the same road project, authorities said a woman died after she crossed the center line and hit a construction vehicle head-on. The construction worker was not injured.
A "care account" has been set up through Arvest Bank for Gates’ family. If you'd like to help, just mention your donation is for Justin Gates at any metro branch.