SANTA CLARITA (CBSLA) – An off-duty Los Angeles County Fire Department captain was mourned Thursday after he was died in a collision on the 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 GMC 3500 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, later identified as Capt. Michael Shepard, 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, a 63-year-old Agua Dulce resident who was assigned to Fire Station 132 in Canyon Country – joined the county fire department in 2006 and worked his way through the ranks, officials said.
Shepard was remembered by his friend and fellow firefighter for his years of service.
“He was in the Army, he’s a veteran. He was in our fire shops as a mechanic – and that wasn’t enough, he wanted to be a fireman. So he did that, and he achieved that in his 50s,” firefighter Scott Elliott said.
Firefighters at his station somberly lowered their flag to half staff Wednesday night.
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.”