Written by: Sam Orlando
AUGUSTA COUNTY, VIRGINIA - Imagine working diligently as a highway construction worker, or envision a family member sacrificing their nights and weekends to serve Virginians through a state highway job. This everyday scenario turned tragic for one family when a VDOT employee, dedicated to ensuring road safety, became the victim of a fatal work zone crash on Interstate 81. The incident has led to a Maryland truck driver being sentenced to three years in prison for involuntary vehicular manslaughter and sparked a major wrongful death lawsuit.
Details of the Criminal Trial Verdict
John C. Barksdale, Jr., 25, from Baltimore, pled guilty to the charge in Augusta County Circuit Court, receiving a 10-year sentence with seven years suspended, as detailed in Augusta County Circuit Court records. Barksdale must also serve three years of supervised probation based on continued good behavior.
The Fateful Morning of the Incident
The accident occurred on the early morning of February 1, 2022. Barksdale, operating a tractor-trailer northbound on I-81, collided with a VDOT truck near mile marker 232 in Augusta County. Despite clear signage warning of the work zone and the closure of the left lane, Barksdale failed to switch lanes, tragically striking the VDOT truck and resulting in the death of Shawn P. Dick, a 32-year-old VDOT employee and father of four.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed
Following this harrowing incident, Jessica Rae Dick, acting as the Administrator of the Estate of Shawn Patrick Dick, Sr., filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia. The suit targets Barksdale, along with Penske Logistics LLC and Penske Truck Leasing Co., L.P., alleging negligence and reckless behavior on Barksdale’s part. The lawsuit claims that Barksdale was distracted by his cell phone, watching YouTube videos instead of concentrating on driving.
Highlighting Work Zone Safety
This tragic case brings to light the vital importance of safety in highway work zones, particularly involving commercial motor vehicles. The lawsuit and the criminal trial outcome emphasize the need for strict adherence to safety protocols and the significant responsibilities of commercial drivers and their employers.
Seeking Justice for the Dick Family
While Barksdale’s criminal trial has concluded, the wrongful death lawsuit continues, seeking over $25 million in compensatory damages and additional punitive damages against Barksdale. The lawsuit aims to provide justice for the Dick family, highlighting the irreplaceable loss and suffering they have endured.