At noon on November 15th, friends, family, and coworkers of maintenance worker Dana Bruce gathered in the courtyard of headquarters of the Blue Ridge Parkway to dedicate a memorial to him. Dana, a third year seasonal employee, died while mowing Haw Creek Valley Overlook on May 7th.
During comments made by Shawn Benge, deputy regional director for Southeast Region, the attendees were reminded that every NPS employee is impacted by Dana’s death.
“I take my role in employee safety very seriously,” said Benge.” In Southeast Region, we’re working to increase our capacity in delivering strategic safety service to the field through the implementation of an executive safety committee, which the parkway has helped plan. There is nothing more important to the regional directorate than for you to arrive home safely each day.”
The memorial was designed by Blue Ridge employees, created at the Carolina Bronze Foundry, and constructed by Brandon Hensley. It rests near a memorial honoring Joe Kolodski, a ranger who died in the line of duty in 1998.
Superintendent Phil Francis and deputy superintendent Monika Mayr reflected on Dana’s contributions and invited his widow, Denise, to visit the memorial to her husband whenever she could: “We are reminded of our responsibility to care for all of you and for ourselves as we go about the activities of this – and every – day. We must remember what these memorials mean to us.”
“We are deeply saddened by this loss of a committed employee and friend who came to the NPS after retiring from his career,” said Gordon Wissinger, acting regional director for Southeast Region and a former chief ranger at Blue Ridge Parkway. “We work together to prevent similar future incidents. Tragic accidents like this remind us to slow things down a bit – especially on those work duties that are routine – and to continue to look out for each other. We are as strong as our team commitment to safety.”
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