By Ann Rubin
Pocahontas, IL (KSDK) - It was an accident that injured three highway workers, and claimed the life of a fourth, Dennis Beard.
His widow has an emotional plea for drivers about speeding in construction zones.
In fact, two of the injured workers were the nephews of Dennis Beard. So this family is suffering on several fronts.
They want people to understand the toll this crash has taken.
Dennis Beard was devoted to his wife Josie, who he met back in junior high.
And he adored his three children, Tessa, James and Alayna.
"He was the best dad, the best husband and he wasn't ready to leave, I know that," said Josie Beard.
But Tuesday morning, his life was cut short.
Beard was part of a work crew placing new reflectors along I-64.
They were just setting up on the shoulder, when the accident occurred.
Witnesses describe seeing a man driving erratically, then crashing into them.
Beard was killed, three others were injured.
Police have identified the driver as Michael Jeter, of West Frankfort.
They say they'll run extensive toxicology tests to determine whether drugs or alcohol might have been a factor.
They say it's too soon to know what charges, if any will be filed.
"I guess we kind of got used to, almost got used to the danger. We always knew it was there," said Josie Beard.
They'd think about it every time they drove through a work zone, hoping people would slow down.
Now that's the message they hope other drivers will take to heart.
"I have three young children to raise by myself, without a dad, and they don't understand that, because someone didn't slow down in a work zone," she said.
They say Dennis Beard loved his job, but loved his family more. He'd never miss a Friday night go-kart racing with his kids.
Beard's family says this didn't need to happen.
"So if everyone could think about that when they're going through a work zone, it would save a lot of lives," said Josie.
Beard's visitation will be Friday and funeral Saturday. Also a fund has been set up to help the family at Bradford Bank in Highland.
As for the driver, Michael Jeter has been released from the hospital. It could take several weeks before police complete their investigation.