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Neighborhood ceremony honors highway worker killed by drunken driver

Updated: 2013-06-23T02:51:20Z

By KEVIN COLLISON

The Kansas City Star

Clifton J. Scott, a highway safety worker struck down on Interstate 70 by a drunken driver last September, was remembered by neighbors and colleagues on a quiet street outside his former home Saturday morning, his name now memorialized at the gentle bend at 55th Terrace and Rinker Road.

“This is for the people who may not remember him and hopefully it may keep somebody from making a bad decision and hurting somebody,” said Chris Redline, assistant district engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Scott’s sister, Xavier Estelle, who helped raise her little brother and called him “Big Daddy,” said his sudden death robbed her of the chance to say goodbye.

“It hurts that someone could be so careless and mow down my brother,” she told the audience of neighbors, MoDOT colleagues and others gathered under a shady maple tree.

Later, Estelle helped pull the wrapping off the new sign renaming that section of the Kansas City street as “Honorary Clifton J. Scott Place.”

Scott, a 15-year MoDOT veteran, died about 2:50 a.m. Sept. 21 when a 35-year-old man allegedly drove through barriers set up by first responders, striking Scott before he could move out of the way. He was taking pictures of the scene when he was hit near the Lee’s Summit Road exit.

Later this year, a stretch of I-70 between Noland Road and Lee’s Summit Road will be renamed the Clifton J. Scott Memorial Highway, and his highway department colleagues are raising the $2,400 needed for two signs.

But on this morning, the Coachlight Square neighborhood gathered to remember a guy who used to climb up on roofs to blow out leaves and was a good friend.

The event, which drew about 100 people, started with organizer Theresa Thompson saying that “September,” a song by Earth, Wind & Fire, was one of Scott’s favorites. A recording of that rousing anthem then kicked off the hour-long event. The Rev. Charles Briscoe brought the emotional tone back to a somber note.

“Clifton died in order to make things safe for us,” he told the group. “He laid down his life for us so that we may have safety on our highways.”

Capt. Aaron McNabb of the Independence Fire Department was there the night Scott was killed. He’d gotten to know the affable highway safety worker during the previous five years at accident investigations.

“He was one of the nicest people you’d hope to meet,” McNabb said. “The horrible thing about that night was when I saw Clifton’s hand, I knew it was him. I struggle with it every day.”

Monique Banks, Scott’s fiancee, sobbed as she remembered learning about his death.

“I woke up in that home by myself screaming and hollering until his big sister came,” she recalled.

To reach Kevin Collison, call 816-234-4289 or send email to kcollison@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @kckansascity.

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