MoDOT letter shows crew supervisor failed key parts of job prior to deadly crash, faces probation

News 4 Investigates uncovered a letter revealing MoDOT investigated a deadly work zone crash and found the crew supervisor failed to do key parts of his job.
Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 7:38 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 6, 2022 at 7:41 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - News 4 Investigates uncovered a letter revealing that the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) investigated a deadly work zone crash and found the crew supervisor failed to do key parts of his job.

The letter was sent to Michael Love, the Signing and Striping Maintenance Supervisor at the Barrett Station. According to the letter, Love was placed on a three-month long disciplinary probation due to “supervisory failures” related to the crash.

On November 18, 2021, Love assigned a crew to restripe Telegraph Road near Interstate 255 in St. Louis County. A man drove through the MoDOT work zone killing 58-year-old James Brooks and 25-year-old Kaitlyn Anderson, who was six months pregnant with a baby boy she named Jaxx.

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

Brown told News 4 Investigates that MoDOT never informed him about the investigation.

“It shouldn’t take people dying for that change to be implemented,” Brown said after reading the letter. “Our job is to keep the public safe and if they’re not doing what they should to keep us safe.”

The letter lists things that Love did that MoDOT calls “unacceptable.” It claims Love admitted he wasn’t looking at MoDOT’s Engineering Policy Guide, “despite knowing it was something you should be doing.” The policy guide details how to set up road projects and outlines the required safety equipment.

The letter goes on to say Love claimed he made decisions based on his “previous knowledge.” The letter also says that Love used a binder created by an employee for a specific project that was done in 2007. The binder wouldn’t have applied to what his crew was doing 14 years later.

“Doing intersection work like that, that wasn’t our usual job so that should have been on the supervisor to be like, ‘hey you need to take this equipment out with you,’” Brown said.

The letter says Love failed to do “required” safety training in October 2021, a month before the crash.

MoDOT wrote in the letter that one of the training videos was about TMAs, which is short for “truck mounted attenuator.” A TMA is a protective barrier that’s designed to absorb impact in a crash and ideally save lives.

According to the letter, the TMA video explained that “protective vehicles are to be used anytime workers will be on the roadway” and that MoDOT’s policy guide needs to be “reviewed regularly.” The letter says that Love did not watch the video and did not follow up to ensure his staff completed the training.

There was no TMA with the crew on the day of the November 2021 crash.

“We had 3 TMAs sitting on the lot that day that could have been used,” Brown said.

News 4 Investigates obtained a MoDOT claim report that was completed by Love after the crash. Under supervisor comments, Love wrote, “there were no policies or procedures violations on the part of the crew. No corrective action required.”

Ultimately MoDOT had a different take. According to the letter to Love, he was put on three months of disciplinary probation. That meant he kept going to work and continued getting paid.

The letter listed six expectations that Love was required to meet, including daily safety briefings with his crew. Love remains a supervisor at MoDOT.

Love declined an interview with News 4 Investigates and said he couldn’t comment.

“I got a life sentence,” said Kaitlyn Anderson’s mom Tonya Musskopf. “How do you even only get a 3-month probation for something like that?”

Musskopf says she wants answers from MoDOT but even though she keeps asking, she hasn’t been able to get any.

“It’s your job to train every employee from the supervisor down to make sure that everyone goes home to their family at the end of the day,” Musskopf said.

MoDOT has never publicly acknowledged the investigation. The letter to Love is now a public record because of a civil lawsuit over the crash.

MoDOT continues to turn down requests for an interview telling News 4 Investigates in an email, “we do not discuss matters that are in litigation.”

Michael Brown keeps circling back to the date on the letter. It was sent on April 26, 2022, nearly five months after the crash, and around two weeks after Brown sat down with News 4 Investigates speaking publicly for the first time and calling for safety changes.

“I find it very coincidental the timing of everything,” Brown added.

Brown is still recovering at home and can’t go back to work, but he says MoDOT needs to stand by its promise posted on its website that, “the ultimate goal is to assure that everyone returns home safely.”

“I feel like if I hadn’t come forward it would still be, swept under the rug,” Brown said.

There were no criminal charges in the crash.

In July the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office decided not to charge the driver, 52-year-old Stanley McFadden. According to investigators, McFadden was experiencing a diabetic emergency when he crashed through the work zone.

News 4 Investigates learned three months before the deadly crash McFadden was in another medical emergency crash.