DECATUR, Mich. (WOOD) — Road crews from as far away as Detroit gathered in Decatur Monday as a Van Buren County Road Commission worker killed on the job was laid to rest.

“He always brought a positive attitude to work and was just an amazing person,” Linnea Rader, the Van Buren County Road Commission’s finance and human resources director, said of Rene Rangel.

Rangel was hit by a vehicle on March 3 while working in a construction zone near Lawrence.

Outside the VFW, where his funeral service was held, a road commission truck was draped in black bunting. The family asked that only people who knew Rangel attend the service, but the public was invited to watch a procession beforehand. With warning lights flashing, a long line of road commission and public works trucks escorted Rangel’s body around Decatur.

“This is amazing. The turnout to support our family at the road commission and Rene’s family is… We’re beyond words,” Rader said. “We don’t know what it’s going to take to get through this but this certainly helps bring to light that our family at the road commission is even larger. The community that has supported our agency and the family, through all of this, is just, it’s amazing. It will help get us through.”

Crews hoped the procession would also remind drivers to slow down and move over for road crews and pay attention in work zones.

“There’s incidents or close calls frequently,” Eric Speers, a Kent County Road Commission worker who was in the procession, said. “It’s too bad the motoring public doesn’t recognize the situation that they put themselves in and us.”

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health statistics show from 2003 through 2020, 2,222 workers were killed at road construction sites. That’s an average of 123 each year.

“Everybody wants to go home and spend the rest of the day with their family after they leave work,” Speers said.

It’s not just road workers at risk. NIOSH says from 1982 through 2020, 29,493 drivers lost their lives in work zone crashes.

With the Van Buren County Road Commission closed for the funeral, surrounding agencies, including the Michigan Department of Transportation, were tapped to handle emergency calls.

Michigan State Police say drugs were believed to be involved in the crash that killed Rangel but the driver hasn’t been arrested. Investigators were waiting on autopsy and lab results, which could take up to six weeks.