By Jim Holt
Signal Senior Staff Writer
An off-duty L.A .County firefighter was identified as the man killed in a freeway collision near Sand Canyon Road, after his Jeep crashed into a Caltrans vehicle Wednesday.
Killed in the crash was Michael Shepard, according to a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner. Shepard was a captain at Fire Station 132.
“He was off duty at the time of the crash,” Capt. Brian Jordan said. “Firefighters arrived on the scene to find their brother firefighter trapped in his vehicle, pulseless and nonbreathing.
“Extrication was difficult and extensive,” he said. “Reluctantly, firefighters had to pronounce Capt. Shepard (dead) at the scene.”
Shepard’s family members have been notified, and the Fire Department’s Memorial Management Team and Peer Counselors have been activated, Jordan said.
The cause of the collision is under investigation by the California Highway Patrol, and questions regarding the collision are being referred to the local CHP office.
There were no other fatalities.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Capt. Shepard’s family and fellow firefighters,” Jordan said.
The driver, later identified as Shepard, was declared dead at the scene, said Fire Department Inspector Joey Marron.
Within a couple of hours of news circulating that one of their own had died in the crash, several firefighters joined a procession that escorted delivery of the body to the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner.
“There was a procession going along Golden Valley Road at one point to the Coroner’s Office,” said Fire Department Inspector Scott Elliott.
“A lot of people (were) showing their respect,” he said, noting several of the participants in the procession work for fire stations in Battalion 6, one of two battalions serving the Santa Clarita Valley.
The crash happened at 11:17 a.m., involving a Jeep and a Caltrans GMC 3500 with a dump truck bed, on the northbound lanes of Highway 14, south of Sand Canyon Road, said California Highway Patrol Officer Josh Greengard.
The Caltrans vehicle was part of a sweeper detail, which was driving within the northbound center median, he said.
The driver of the Jeep suffered fatal injuries, Greengard said. The driver of the Caltrans vehicle sustained moderate injuries and was transported to Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital.
“Initial information indicates the Jeep struck the rear of the Caltrans vehicle in the vicinity of the center median/HOV lane,” Greengard said.
The northbound HOV, or carpool lane, and the lane next to it remained closed at 1:40 p.m.
Shortly after 11:15 a.m., firefighters with the Los Angeles County Fire Department were dispatched to the crash. When they arrived before noon, they immediately began efforts to free the driver trapped in the vehicle, but he was declared dead at the scene.
Traffic was stopped on the highway as rescue crews arrived and it remained closed for most of the afternoon.