SAN FRANCISCO -- Two California Department of Transportation workers have been killed while removing rocks from a hillside above a rural Northern California highway, officials said Wednesday.
Joseph "Robert" Jones, 40, of Montague, and Shawn Baker, 50, of Weed, were killed around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday while removing loose rocks above Highway 96 near Happy Camp, in remote Siskiyou County, Caltrans spokeswoman Denise Yergenson said.
A third worker, Kevin Skillen, 50, an equipment operator, was injured in the incident and flown to a hospital in Medford, Ore., where he was listed in stable condition.
Jones and Baker were both hooked to ropes and harnesses and working on removing the rocks off the hillside at the time of the incident, Yergenson said.
Yergenson said late Wednesday she had few details about the incident but described the type of work the men were doing as "regularly done where there's rockslide potential."
Baker was a 12-year veteran of the department and Jones worked for Caltrans for seven years.
"We're very sad," Yergenson said of the incident. "Caltrans employees are a big family and it's really shaken up a lot of people."
Baker is survived by his wife, Tammie, and four children. Jones is survived by his wife, Shannon, and three children.
Gov. Jerry Brown ordered Capitol flags be flown at half-staff and issued a statement about the deaths of the two workers.
"Anne and I were saddened to learn of the deaths of Shawn Baker and Joseph 'Robert' Jones, who worked day-in and day-out to make the roads safer for Californians," the statement said. "We extend our deepest sympathies to their families, friends and colleagues mourning this tragedy. Our thoughts are also with Kevin Skillen who was injured in the incident."
The area where the men were killed is a rugged and remote area in far Northern California, in the heart of the Klamath National Forest, just south of the Oregon-California border, or about 320 miles north of Sacramento.
Wednesday's two fatalities mark the first time a Caltrans employee within the department's District 2, a vast area of Northern California covering 27,000 square miles, has been killed on the job since October of 2008, Yergenson said.