TUCSON, AZ — An Arizona man finally saw progress in his pursuit that spans over a decade to make state highways safer following the fatal crash of his wife and sister.
"I never thought we'd get to this point," said Mike Humphrey with a smile on his face, standing before the state legislative transportation and technology committee on Monday.
Humphrey's life changed forever in May of 2008.
His wife Pam and sister Ann were headed up I-10 from Tucson to Phoenix when they swerved to miss something in the road. Their car crossed over a dirt median and was struck by a semi-truck.
"The car doesn't just crash in our case, it exploded," said Humphrey.
The loss of his wife and sister put Humphrey on what's been a 14-year journey to add cable medians, or any barrier, in hot spot crash areas throughout the state.
His research led him to discover that in the over 20-mile stretch of I-10 where his family perished, there have been 64 crashes that injured 74 people and killed 20 others since 2001.
"The section of I-10 where my loved ones died, along with other sections, was identified by ADOT in September of 2013 as requiring cable median barriers," said Humphrey to a room of lawmakers.
Diana Glazer drove in from California to speak in person to committee members. Her daughter and husband were killed in a crash when a driver crossed over the median and hit her car head-on.
The crash happened in the exact area Humphrey's family was killed in 2008.
"All I wanted to know is where Michael and Sidney were. The man who pulled me out said they are with God," said Glazer.
Sen. Rosanna Gabaldon of Santa Cruz County filed SB1525 to review and adopt standards for medians to reduce the number of crashes and fatalities lost on Arizona freeways. The bill aims to identify highway crash hot spots and consider a barrier.
The bill passed out of committee on Monday despite the transportation department challenging aspects of the bill.
"When you place a barrier, you're going to see an increase in crashes," said Katy Proctor of ADOT. "You are also removing that safe haven for other drivers who might need to access that median for an emergency."
A portion of the bill that would allocate $10 million for highway barriers was removed. Funding for any future projects is still unclear.
The bill now heads to the Senate.