Mother of Edgerton utility worker killed on the job pleads drivers to pay closer attention

After her son died while working his utility job, Becki Slater hopes people remember that impaired or distracted driving can kill.
Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 7:07 PM CST
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PLAIN, Wis. (WMTV) - After her son died while working his utility job, Becki Slater hopes people remember that impaired or distracted driving can kill.

Slater’s son Zane Reilly was struck by an SUV and killed while working in the field as an underground utility installer on Highway 23 in a rural area just outside of Plain, Wis. last week. The 25-year-old Edgerton native’s funeral was held on Monday.

Slater described her son as a hard worker with a sharp sense of humor and contagious smile. She also described him as a utility worker since birth and that he was always fixing or building something with his hands.

She was at work when Reilly’s father called her sharing the news that Reilly was killed instantly after a 17-year-old driver hit him at 7:45 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22.

“I keep waiting to wake up I guess because this can’t be real,” Slater said.

Mother of Edgerton utility worker killed on the job asks people to stop driving distracted or...
Mother of Edgerton utility worker killed on the job asks people to stop driving distracted or impaired(Marcus Aarsvold)

Slater hopes the story of his death reminds people to pay extra attention when driving through work zones.

“We’ve all changed the radio station,” she said. “We’ve all dropped something or picked up our coffee cup and for a split second our eyes are off the road.”

Sauk County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Steven Schram responded to the crash and said the worst part is that Slater’s death could’ve been prevented.

“It doesn’t take long to travel a long way on the roadway without your eyes on the road and that’s all it takes is a split second for someone to lose their life,” Schram said. “If you’re tired find a ride, pull over, take a rest, but just understand we have families we want to get home to at the end of the day too. We’re trying to do a job too and do it as safely as we can.”

He said the investigation is ongoing and once complete, evidence will be presented to the Sauk County District Attorney’s office. Then, the DA decides whether or not to press charges.

Slater said Reilly would not want people to wallow in sadness, but learn from his story.

“I know this is what he would want,” she said. “And I am going to make sure that everyone gets through this.”

Slater included the driver when referring to people she wants to get through this traumatic incident. She reached out to the family of the driver to let them know Reilly’s family does not harbor ill will toward them.

“I don’t want this to define [the driver],” Slater said.

Reilly worked for Fivestar Energy Services. A representative sent the following statement to NBC15 News:

We are deeply saddened by the loss of our fivestar family member Zane Reilly, to a tragic traffic accident. We want to remind everyone to slow down and stay alert in workZones to keep our utility workers safe.

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