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Family of retired fire caption files lawsuit against state

City News Service | 9/20/2019, midnight

Relatives of an off-duty Los Angeles County Fire Department captain killed in January when his Jeep crashed into the back of a stopped Caltrans dump truck on the northbound Antelope Valley (14) Freeway in Santa Clarita are suing the state of California.

Capt. Michael Shepard, a 63-year-old Agua Dulce resident, would later die at a hospital.

The plaintiffs in the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit filed on Sept. 13 are his widow, Catherine Shepard; their son, Clint Shepard; and their daughter, Conni Billes.

The accident occurred about 11:15 a.m. Jan. 23, just south of Sand Canyon Road, California Highway Patrol Officer Moises Marroquin said previously.

According to the CHP accident report, the Caltrans vehicle—a GMC 3500 with a dump truck bed that was part of a sweeper operation—was traveling in the northbound center median when it was rear-ended by a Jeep.

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

The suit seeks unspecified damages and alleges the Caltrans driver violated a section of the state Vehicle Code designed to protect drivers like Shepard, and that there were insufficient signs that would have allowed him to drive safely past the dangerous condition.

A Caltrans representative did not immediately return a call requesting comment.