The Norwalk man was a mechanic who was killed on the job in 1978 when a train hit him at the Middle Ridge Road railroad crossing. He was 46.
Forty years later, the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission has set up a program that honors a dozen men who were killed at work in nine separate incidents since 1967. Also, director Randy Cole said he hopes it will help drivers pay more attention to the state “move over and slow down” law and stress the importance of slowing down and being more careful while driving through work zones.
“We’ve got to stop having ceremonies like this,” he said.
A sign in memory of Starkey has been created that will be posted on milepost 141, near where he was killed. Many family members attended a memorial sign dedication ceremony Friday afternoon at the Amherst maintenance building, where Starkey worked for 12 years.
“It’s nice they’re recognizing him,” his son, Kermit Jr., said afterward. “He loved his job here. He loved working here.
“It’s a family here; that’s the way he thought of it,” the Norwalk man added.
Lt. Rick Reeder, commander of the Milan post of the state Highway Patrol, offered some tips to avoid tragedies such as Starkey’s death. He recommends motorists do several things: Reduce your speed in a construction zone, pay attention, drive defensively, increase your following distance, plan ahead and be prepared.
“You can do a lot by slowing down,” Reeder said. “We’re asking you to slow down for just a short time. … We’ll do our part for enforcing these laws … and making our roads safer.
Starkey grew up in West Virginia and eventually moved to Cleveland. He started living in Norwalk about 1957 or 1958.
“He loved life. He was a very happy man,” his son said.
Starkey was a Norwalk Reflector pressman for about eight years.
“He was a proud U.S. Navy veteran,” Cole said.
Starkey’s son said his father was a man who enjoyed baseball, “loved square-dancing” and had made baseball racks for the Lefty Grove Baseball League.
“They were still there the last time I was there,” Starkey Jr. said. “He was always doing something with Lefty Grove.”