Crime - Sacto 911

Family mourns man killed in high-speed crash; charges mulled for other driver

Gary Edwin Lappin was on his way to work at the Union Pacific railyard in Roseville.

As he turned the corner on East Levee Road on Sunday, the Natomas resident was fatally struck by another vehicle traveling in excess of 100 mph, according to police. Lappin, 61, was set to retire next year after more than a decade as a “car man,” who was responsible for testing and maintaining rail cars, his family said Tuesday.

“We’re all just kind of in shock,” said the victim’s daughter, Shannon Lappin, 37, of Ukiah.

The California Highway Patrol said the accident was caused by Sergiy Stepanova, 17, of Sacramento when his 2003 Lincoln went out of control as he headed southbound on East Levee Road, just south of West Elverta Road in rural Elverta. The crash occurred about 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Lappin was the caretaker for his wife, Lita Lappin, 66, ever since she suffered a major stroke nearly two decades ago.

“That’s the hardest part,” said Justin Lappin, the victim’s son. “We’re trying to get our mom taken care of now.”

Justin Lappin, 35, of Santa Rosa said his father was a kindhearted person who always wanted to help others. His father had called Friday, Lappin said, to make a donation to victims of the Valley fire in Lake County, where the family had lived for several years.

CHP investigators believe Stepanova crossed into the northbound lane as he approached the curve, traveling faster than 100 mph. Lappin was traveling at 45 mph in a 2014 Subaru, officials said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Stepanova suffered major injuries, while four other passengers, ranging in age from 16 to 20 years old, had broken bones, lacerations, brain injuries and broken facial bones. They were all transported to area hospitals.

CHP officials are considering criminal charges against Stepanova. As of Tuesday, no charges had been filed, according to Officer Julie Powell.

“Both cars are impounded and they need to be inspected,” said Powell. “A lot of things need to be done prior to the case being submitted to the District Attorney’s Office.”

Three of the five people in Stepanova’s vehicle were not wearing seat belts. Lappin had his seat belt on.

Lappin’s cause of death has not been released by the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office.

Richard Chang: 916-321-1018, @RichardYChang