MAP worker dies in crash on New Bridge

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development confirmed a Motorist Assistance Patrol worker died in a crash on I-10 West Monday morning.

The worker was identified as Jim Gilmer, 79, of Baton Rouge. This is the first time a MAP employee has been involved in a deadly crash.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of this and any life," a DOTD spokesperson said in a news release. "Safety is of the utmost importance for DOTD. We will conduct a thorough investigation of this incident."

DOTD Secretary Sherri LeBas said Gilmer got a call Monday morning to go to the bridge and remove a chain from the inside lane. A spokesman for the Baton Rouge Police Department said Gilmer stopped his truck in the center lane, with his emergency lights on. Investigators said Gilmer was standing in front of his MAP truck when an 18-wheeler rear-ended it.

Davie Coussore, 62, of Florida, the driver of the 18-wheeler, was ticketed for careless operation. Police said more charges are possible because the crash is still under investigation.

It happened on I-10 West on the Horace Wilkinson Bridge (New Bridge) around 9:30 a.m. All westbound lanes on the bridge were blocked for several hours. All lanes were reopened a little after 1 p.m.

Officials closed I-10 West at the I-10/I-110 Split due to the wreck and the entrance ramp from I-110 South onto I-10 West onto the bridge. All of those lanes were reopened just before 1 p.m.

LeBas said MAP trucks have emergency lights to warn other drivers to slow down and give them some room. She said the workers also wear safety vests to be seen. She added the department will review all safety precautions currently in place to make sure this does not happen again.

LeBas said transportation officials are also reminding the public to be more aware of MAP workers and workers in construction zones.

"They do put their lives in danger," LeBas said. "We want to remind motorists to please slow down when we're doing work on the highway. Please slow down."

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