Police: Woman bumps road worker with car during argument

A construction zone at the intersection of Kennedy Ave. and Washington St. (Hwy. N) in Kimberly is seen, July 10, 2014. (WLUK/Laura Smith)

KIMBERLY - Police say a driver hit a highway worker after an argument over which direction the motorist should go.

It happened around 9:15 Wednesday morning at East Kennedy Avenue and Highway N in Kimberly.

A county highway crew had just laid fresh asphalt at the intersection.

"There were signs announcing that this was an active work zone," said Outagamie County Highway Commissioner Al Geurts.

Highway flag workers directed traffic around the area, but police say one driver refused to change her route.

"She passed the first worker, and he alerted the second worker who stopped her car, stood in front of the car and told her you can't go through here," said Fox Valley Metro Police Chief Erik Misselt.

According to officials, the driver, Patricia Carlson of Kimberly, argued with that worker.

"The motorist rolled down the window and voiced some strong words against the flag person," said Geurts.

Officials say Carlson then deliberately hit the worker with her car bumper in an attempt to push the worker out of the way.

"And then as the worker obviously had no choice but to step out of the way, she drove on through over the fresh pavement, caused damage and then left the scene," explained Misselt.

The highway commissioner says Carlson caused bruises on the worker's shins. Others at the scene caught part of Carlson's license plate, and reported the incident to police.

Officers located Carlson and gave her tickets totaling more than $1,000 for hit and run, reckless driving and disregarding a traffic officer.

We knocked on Carlson's door to hear her side of the story, but no one answered.

"No one should have to go to work fearing for their safety," said Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson.

County officials say incidents at construction sites are common, but won't be tolerated.

"When something like this happens as deliberately, as foolishly, that we ought to use everything in our resources to throw the book at this person," Nelson said.

So, a message for drivers who approach orange barrels and detour signs: "Give yourself extra time and really be respectful of what those flag persons are trying to do on that project," said Geurts.

Geurts says the injured worker will be okay. She is already back on the job.

Crews were able to repair the damage caused by the incident.