YORKTOWN, New York (WABC) -- A community is mourning the loss of a 28-year-old highway worker in Yorktown after an accident on Tuesday.
Jake Arcara was killed in a crash with an 88-year-old local resident at the site where highway department employees were working on a drainage project on London Road, officials said.
He was directing traffic as a flagger while a crew installed drainage pipes. The driver somehow drove through a blocked lane and hit Arcara from behind.
Police are investigating whether the driver, a Korea War veteran, accidentally hit the gas instead of the brake.
"We know the service he has provided to our country, the service he's provided to our community, and it makes it doubly as hard because we're all sitting here grappling with the facts as we know them at this point in time," said town supervisor Matt Slater.
In a moving tribute posted to social media, the Yorktown Highway Department said Arcara was "a loyal, kind, warm hearted, funny, hardworking, loving, genuine guy."
Arcara grew up in Yorktown and began working for the department in 2019. His boss says he was a model employee who brought joy to those around him.
"When people are in a bad mood he would make it his mission to cheer them up, I just can't say enough about the empathy, the kindness that he exhibited particularly for a young man," said Yorktown Highway Superintendent Dave Paganelli.
They said he loved his coworkers and was always there for them, but his family was his world.
Arcara leaves behind his fiancée, Katie, his mom, dad, grandmother, sister, niece, nephew and more.
The Yorktown Highway Department said Arcara and his fiancée were set to be married just one year after the day he died -- Sept. 15, 2023.
He was also supposed to have been the best man at a friend's wedding this weekend.
The crash highlights the danger faced by by work crews from motorists often in a rush.
The Town of Yorktown said it will examine its safety protocols:
"The safety and well-being of our employees is always the Town's priority. While the Town re-examines its safety protocols and procedures we also ask motorists to be more attentive of our staff who are simply doing their jobs. To the best of our knowledge all of the proper steps were taken by staff at the scene."
On Friday morning, a Yorktown Water Department truck was hit at the same location.
For now, the town will completely close streets during construction rather than close one lane of traffic. It may be inconvenient for motorists, but will be safer for workers.