PennDOT employee, AFSCME member loses life on the job

penndotlogowebJust as the vital services that Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) workers provide Pennsylvanians everyday often go unnoticed and under-appreciated, the same goes for the risk those workers face doing their jobs.

AFSCME Council 13 is deeply saddened to report that eight-year PennDOT employee and AFSCME Local 2604 (Tech. Services – District 3) member Harold “Don” Whipple passed away at the age of 33 after being critically injured in a traffic crash on August 3.

There will be a benefit ride on Sunday, August 14, to raise money for Don’s family as well for the family of Andy Puhlick who was injured in the crash. We encourage anyone to contribute what they can to help the families get through a very difficult time. Click here to see the flier for the benefit ride.

Don was a Bridge and Structural Draftsman Designer in District 3, Montoursville. He was traveling from a work site with a coworker when a traffic crash occurred, injuring Don and three other PennDOT employees. Thankfully, the other employees survived, but everyone involved is now mourning the loss of a dedicated PennDOT employee and upstanding individual.
“Don once worked 24 hours straight to complete the design for an emergency repair for a truss on Route 6 after it was damaged by a truck,” said Secretary of Transportation Leslie Richards.

“At hard times such as this, we quickly remember that we are much more than just colleagues. We are a family of people dedicated to serving the community around us and today, all of us, in every corner of PennDOT, are hurting at such a terrible loss.”

Don lived and worked near the countryside and loved the outdoors. He was known as an avid camper, hunter and kayaker, and was both a lover of nature and a man of faith.

Don has deep ties to PennDOT and public service with his father-in-law working for PennDOT District 2, as well as his father Dennis being retired from Bald Eagle State Park and his mother Sharon working as a secretary for Clearfield County Judge.

Council 13 sends its deepest condolences to Don’s wife Julia and all of his friends and family who are mourning his loss. We also send our thoughts out to our brothers and sisters in the PennDOT family.

This serves as a stark, unwelcomed reminder that PennDOT workers do dangerous jobs that have risks many do not even consider. If you know a PennDOT worker, thank them, and always be careful on the roads they maintain.