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ITD worker seriously injured in Jan. 2 crash

Jerry Freeman devoted much of the New Year’s Day holiday weekend keeping highways in District 4 safer for motorists. A transportation technician based in Shoshone, Freeman stepped outside his regular duties as a transport driver to assist with snow plowing.

The road ahead promises to be far more difficult for Freeman than the highway he plowed.

He faces months of recovery and physical rehabilitation after sustaining critical injuries Jan. 2 in a two-vehicle crash about five miles south of Bellevue. He spent the night plowing snow on Idaho 75 and then grading the highway to remove ice delivered by a fierce winter storm.

His work day behind him, Freeman was returning to the maintenance shop at about 3:15 p.m. in a 1996 ITD pickup when he noticed a northbound vehicle had crossed the center line and was encroaching on his lane. Freeman apparently moved to the right shoulder of the highway in an unsuccessful effort to avoid a crash. The oncoming vehicle struck Freeman’s pickup on the driver’s side.

Fellow ITD workers were ahead and behind him on Idaho 75 and helped at the scene.

Freeman, 54, was taken by Lifeflight helicopter to Twin Falls and then transferred to St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise. Two weeks after the crash, he remains in the intensive care unit with multiple injuries, including a broken hip, broken ribs and a collapsed lung.

He is responding well to treatment and probably will be moved from ICU in the next couple of weeks, said his supervisor, shop superindendent Mike Praegitzer. Freeman has undergone hip/pelvis surgery, but faces more operations and a long recovery.

Freeman worked for a Bellevue paving company before accepting seasonal work with the transportation department in 1994. He became a full-time transportation technician in 1997.

He and his parents live north of Shoshone.

“Your well wishes and prayers are most welcome,” wrote colleague Terry Meiners in a Jan. 8 e-mail message. “If you wish to send a card, you may do that and the family will be able to read your messages to Jerry.”

Please address cards and letters to Jerry Freeman, c/o St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, 1055 N. Curtis Road, Boise, 83706.