Los Angeles

County Fire Captain Killed in Freeway Crash Mourned

"He was the source of love, comfort, protection and joy to the entire family. It is with grieving hearts that we have lost him, but we are forever grateful for each minute we spent with him."

An off-duty Los Angeles County Fire Department captain was being mourned Thursday after he was killed in a collision on the northbound Antelope Valley (14) Freeway in Santa Clarita that also left a Caltrans worker injured.

A Jeep and a Caltrans vehicle collided just south of Sand Canyon Road about 11:15 a.m. Wednesday, California Highway Patrol Officer Moises Marroquin said.

According to the CHP accident report, the Caltrans vehicle -- a GMC3500 with a dump truck bed that was part of a sweeper operation -- was traveling within the northbound center median when it was rear-ended by a Jeep.

The Jeep driver -- an Agua Dulce resident later identified as Capt. Michael Shepard, 63, of Fire Station 132 in Canyon Country -- died at the scene, according to the CHP. Authorities at the crash site covered Shepard's body with an American flag.

The driver of the Caltrans vehicle suffered moderate injuries and was taken to Henry Mayo Memorial Hospital for treatment, according to the CHP.

The crash shut down the carpool and No. 1 lanes until about 7 p.m. The closures caused an eight-mile, 90-minute traffic backup.

Shepard joined the county fire department in 2006 and worked his way through the ranks, officials said.

Shepard is survived by his wife Cathy, four sons, two daughters and seven grandchildren.

"Mike was a dedicated husband, father and fire captain," according to a statement issued by Shepard's wife. "He was the source of love, comfort, protection and joy to the entire family. It is with grieving hearts that we have lost him, but we are forever grateful for each minute we spent with him."

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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