The State Worker

Caltrans worker Mel Riffel, 30, among dead in Ethiopian Airlines crash

A Caltrans equipment operator was among the passengers who died Sunday when an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed shortly after taking off from Ethiopia’s capital city.

Melvin “Mel” Riffel, 30, of Redding was traveling with his brother, Bennett, according to an email Caltrans sent employees Wednesday. The District 2 maintenance worker leaves behind his wife, who is expecting the couple’s first child, according to the email.

“He was a dedicated civil servant who worked for Caltrans for nearly a decade and our deepest sympathy and condolences go out to his family, friends and colleagues,” Caltrans Director Laurie Berman said in a statement.

Riffel had been on a special assignment as a transportation engineering technician in Caltrans’ construction division.

The California Transportation Foundation has set up a memorial fund in Riffel’s name. The email says people making a donation must indicate in a drop-down menu that the donation is for Riffel Memorial Fund.

The crash killed all 157 people on board the Boeing 737 Max 8 airplane. The U.S. ordered all of the planes grounded Wednesday.

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