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Family of woman killed by Caltrans crew clearing homeless encampment files claim

Woman found dead at Modesto homeless encampment

A Caltrans crew found a body in an area of vegetation between southbound Highway 99 and the 700 block of Kansas Avenue in Modesto, CA, on Wednesday Aug. 1 2018.
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A Caltrans crew found a body in an area of vegetation between southbound Highway 99 and the 700 block of Kansas Avenue in Modesto, CA, on Wednesday Aug. 1 2018.

The parents of the woman who was killed last month when she was struck by heavy machinery operated by a Caltrans worker have filed a claim with the state seeking damages for wrongful death.

The claim, filed Sept. 22 by attorney Eric Khodadian on behalf of the parents of Shannon Bigley, is a prerequisite to a lawsuit.

Bigley was sleeping in a homeless encampment along Highway 99 south of Kansas Avenue in central Modesto on Aug. 1 when she was fatally struck by heavy machinery. Caltrans was at the site to clean up the encampment, which is on state property.

“The family is upset that it has been over a month now and no one from Caltrans has reached out to offer any condolences to them or offered any information about what happened or why it happened,” Khodadian said Monday.

Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol, which is investigating the incident, have refused to provide the family with any details about what happened, Khodadian said.

“We have taken these steps to one, get the ball rolling on seeking justice for Shannon and two, get answers for the family,” the Los Angeles-based attorney said. “Hopefully Caltrans will come back with an explanation of what happened and what steps they will take to prevent this from happening in the future. While we don’t have the final results from the state (investigation), I can’t imagine under the circumstances this isn’t gross negligence on the part of Caltrans.”

He said he does not yet know how much money Shannon Bigley’s father, Maurice Bigley, and his wife, Bridget Bigley, will seek in damages. The state has 50 days to respond to the claim.

In April, Steve Crouch, the director of public employees for the union representing Caltrans maintenance workers filed a grievance, asking Caltrans to create special crews to clear homeless camps before road maintenance. The union wanted Caltrans to provide members of the crews training, vaccinations and equipment to handle hazardous materials.

Caltrans and the state Human Resources Department rejected the request.

Shortly after The Modesto Bee broke the story about Bigley’s death Aug. 29 Crouch filed another grievance contending that Caltrans is in violation of its work classifications for the workers doing encampment cleanups. The grievance demanded that Caltrans immediately cease and desist having workers perform homeless encampment cleanups. Crouch said Monday he still has not received a response from Caltrans.

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