HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - For the first time, we're hearing from the young construction worker who was run-down by a car while on the job. He is battered, and bruised...but has no hard feelings toward the woman accused of hitting him.
Brian Fitzgerald, 27, was knocked out for about five minutes, and doesn't remember anything about getting hit. Co-workers had to "tell" him how he ended up with a shattered wrist and bruises on his face.
"They said, I guess, I got hit and thrown on top of the car. And then when she stepped on the brakes, I got thrown from the car and landed on the pavement," Fitzgerald said.
Brian was painting lines around 1:00 a.m. Wednesday on Interstate 64 westbound, near Glenside Drive, when Henrico Police say 48-year-old Meta Hall drove drunk into the work zone and hit him straight on. He's not sure how he wasn't killed.
"I'm just very surprised I woke up when I did. You know, it's just something that feels unreal right now," Fitzgerald said.
Hall was arrested after driving eight miles down the road. According to court papers, she told police she was drinking, and thought she hit a traffic cone, not a 27-year-old man.
"Made me feel angry, when I first heard that. But then the anger subsided and went away," Fitzgerald said.
Brian knows he's lucky. Seven people died in Virginia work zone crashes in 2008, and Richmond has the most recorded crashes after Northern Virginia. The risk will only go up. VDOT says nighttime work zones will become more common on I-64 and I-95 in greater Richmond over the next three years.
"They [workers] may only have a one pound cone between them, and your vehicle, so that cone isn't gonna stop your vehicle from hitting them and think, they also have families to go to," said Dawn Eischen of VDOT.
Brian, though, looks forward to getting back to work one day. His wrist may need surgery...but in his head, he's moving on, with a surprising message for the woman accused of hitting him.
"I have forgiven her, it helps the healing process," Fitzgerald said.
AAA is reminding drivers that a new law goes into effect July 1 that requires drivers to slow down and move over for any vehicle with an amber flashing light. Right now the law applies only to blue and red flashing lights. It's being expanded to protect highway workers, like Brian. 38 other states have similar laws.