ARNOLD, Mo. – Tanya Musskopf is the mother of Kaitlyn Anderson, a pregnant MoDOT worker who died nearly two years ago during a collision on Interstate 255.
Anderson, at the age of 25, was working in an active, but unprotected work zone prior to the crash. She and her unborn child, along with co-worker James Brooks, were killed when a car sped through their area in south St. Louis County.
On Saturday, community members gathered at Arnold City Park for a toy drive and bags tournament in memory of Anderson. Musskopf and the Kait’s Love for Jaxx Foundation helped with organization of the event.
During the event, Musskopf also spoke out about major concerns over worker safety and accountability. Not far from where the toy drive took place sits the memorial site at the location where the fatal crash happened on Nov. 18, 2021.
“It was the most devastating day of my life,” said Musskopf. “When I found out how it happened, how horribly she was killed, it destroyed me.”
In the span of 24 hours, the life of Anderson’s mother changed. “Getting decorations and planning her baby shower, to planning their funeral services,” said Musskopf.
Six months pregnant, Anderson was called out to a job her and others weren’t equipped to complete.
“It was my first time ever working in that kind of field, and obviously, from what’s been filed in courts and through personnel letters, we were not trained to do that job properly,” said Michael Brown, the only surviving MoDOT worker involved in the crash.
The result, as Brown says, was a lack of proper oversight. The FOX Files has followed up with extensive coverage from the incident, to the string of mishandled accountability, and unsafe MoDOT worker conditions.
After the tragedy, Musskopf spent time working on the Kaits Love for Jaxx Foundation in support of the young mother and her unborn baby. The group has grown to more than 80 volunteers, but it’s gained citywide support.
“For anyone that knew Kaitlyn, Kaitlyn was a helper,” said Musskopf. “She always wanted to help everybody, so I knew I needed to do something to honor her.”
The second annual toy drive and bags tournament is part of that effort. Proceeds from the event will benefit the St. Louis Crisis Nursery. The group helps grieving and misplaced children receive the care and resources they need.
Musskopf says events like this are aimed toward giving back to those who have experienced similar trauma, but also recognizing accountability.
“MoDOT failed them by not providing a protective barrier between the work zone, the workers, and oncoming traffic,” said Musskopf.
The event is also meant to spread awareness of worker safety and training for such emergencies.
“It took more training for me to manage a restaurant where everyone was inside a building than my supervisors got to send people out in active lanes of traffic,” said Brown.
What’s frustrating to both, is the lack of change that’s occurred since the tragedy.
“There’s no accountability, no compassion, and no changing as far as I’m concerned,” said Musskopf.
Brown, dealing with severe memory loss and ongoing pain from the accident, was terminated for using marijuana as a form of medical treatment. More frustrating for him, the supervisor on standby during the day of the crash, was only out on a 30-day paid probation.
“He got a less harsh punishment for his multiple policy violations that day than the punishment for my one close accident policy violation,” said Brown.
Musskopf has been fighting for proper justice. Working with legislators, she says they’re aiming for more corporate accountability, and stricter punishments for drivers. “They value human life unlike MoDOT,” said Musskopf.
Until then, a stark reminder will soon take shape on the scene where they were killed.
“The bridge that took Kaitlyn and Jaxx’s life, will be named the Kaitlyn Anderson Memorial Bridge,” said Musskopf. The sign in her memory, however, will cost the family $5,000.
Musskopf says it’s still worth it to spend her days trying to prevent others from dealing with the harsh reality she’s been dealing with since the loss of her daughter and grandson.
“Love your loved one like there’s no tomorrow, cause sometimes there’s not,” said Musskopf.
Serving as a reminder of a tragedy that could have been avoided, soon the signs in honor of those lost, will be hung on the bridge where Telegraph and 255 meet, now called the Kaitlyn Anderson Memorial Bridge.
Anderson’s partner, and father-to-be, has even created several songs, highlighting the concerns for work zones, driver safety, and the loss of his soulmate and unborn baby.
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