Widow of crash victim pushing for Highway 41 to be widened

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- More than a month after Misty Atkins lost her husband, most days she still can't believe he's never coming home.

"We had just celebrated our five-year anniversary. Honestly, we were like two teenagers in love. We had that true love story," she says.

But their love story was shattered on a Wednesday morning last month as Kenneth Atkins was on his way to work.

"It was about 6:10 in the morning, still dark out. But he was following all the rules that you need to wearing a seatbelt, keeping his distance," she says.

But none of that mattered when California Highway Patrol officers say a driver who was attempting to pass several cars struck Atkins head-on. The impact caused his compact car to flip into a field. When it came to rest he was dead.

After 9/11 Kenneth joined the Navy and served for twelve years.

He worked for the Department of Defense and at the time of his death, he was contracted on a large project in Lemoore.

His coworkers honored him recently with a piece of structural steel bearing his name.

His service and selflessness is what's helping Misty work through the heartbreak. She is also working to change the two-lane highway where Kenneth died. There's a 6.2-mile stretch where a four-lane becomes two.

On Thursday, Misty teamed up with the California Highway Patrol to talk with the newest employees on the naval base about traffic safety.

Misty's cousin is also working with local leaders and Caltrans officials to change the section where Kenneth died.

"There have been multiple accidents- two to three times a week, many many fatalities, and when Ken lost his life something just clicked. It was time. It's time for the people to step up and hold Caltrans accountable," says Misty's cousin Lorna Roush.

The two have started a Facebook page to widen Highway 41 and already more than a thousand people have joined, many sharing stories about crashes they or their family members have been involved in there.

Even if the road cannot be widened immediately, Misty hopes action is taken immediately to put a concrete divider in and in the future through a widening project.

"I'm just hoping the state can come through and fix it for him because that's the least I can do, I can't get him back. So I'm hoping this is in his honor," says Misty.
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