Colleagues and friends joined family members in honoring two Idaho Transportation Department workers who were killed in a two-vehicle accident March 15. Memorial services for Toby Stevens and James Onthank were held Saturday (March 19) and Monday (March 21), respectively, in Grangeville.
A large contingent of ITD workers joined community members in paying respect to the two men who were killed when their six-wheel dump truck was hit head-on by a cement truck several miles south of White Bird. The operator of the cement truck lost control and veered into the northbound lane of U.S. 95 after the front tire ruptured.
Idaho State Police officers served as honor guards and presented flags to the widows of both men in recognition of their commitment to keep Idaho highways safe. Onthank and Stevens were on their way to patch potholes on U.S. 95 when the crash occurred.
ITD Director Dave Ekern read letters from Gov. Dirk Kempthorne at both services that, on behalf of the state, expressed condolences to family members and honored the men for their service to Idaho.
"The tragic accident Tuesday near White Bird cut short a life that had such great potential," Gov. Kempthorne wrote of Stevens. "I know that Toby and his wife recently finalized the purchase of a home and were anxious to finish moving. His premature passing left a dream unfulfilled and a career incomplete."
Of Onthank, the governor said: "Jim’s love for quality of life was evident in the time he spent with family enjoying the great outdoors, studying nature, harvesting gems and raising a unique collection of animals. (Those qualities) speak of his passion for life. They speak of his solid character. They speak of his leadership."
Employees from the city of Truckee, Nev., offered to assist if members of Stevens’ family needed transportation help to attend the service. Stevens worked for the city before moving to Idaho and accepting a position with ITD in 2004.