2 people, including Caltrans engineer on duty, killed in Fresno County crash

Governor Gavin Newsom's office issued a statement mourning the loss of 48-year-old Ali Shabazz, a 16-year-veteran of Caltrans.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2022
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48-year-old Ali Shabazz, a 16-year-veteran of Caltrans, was headed to a job on I-5 when another car crashed into his truck. Both drivers died.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Caltrans employee's commute came to a sudden crash overnight at a rural Fresno County intersection.

It happened just before midnight at California and San Diego Avenues, south of Mendota.

The California Highway Patrol says it's not clear how fast a 25-year-old man in a Nissan Altima was driving as he headed north on San Diego Ave, but CHP says he drove through the stop sign at California Ave.

The 25-year-old man has been identified as Marquis Pratcher.

The front of his Nissan crashed into the driver's side of a Caltrans truck.

Neither driver was wearing a seatbelt. Both died from blunt force trauma injuries.

Caltrans later identified their employee as 48-year-old Ali Shabazz, who was a civil engineer.

He was headed to a job on I-5 when the crash happened.

Shabazz had served at Caltrans for more than 16 years. He is survived by his wife, Nia, and their eight children.

Shabazz was the Imam at Masjid Al-Aqabah religious center in Fresno.

On Monday evening, Governor Gavin Newsom's office issued a statement mourning the loss of Shabazz.

"We offer our deepest sympathies to his family and his many friends and Caltrans colleagues during this painful time," he said.

Flags at the State Capitol and Capitol Annex Swing Space would be flown at half-staff in his honor, the governor's statement said.

Shabazz is the second Caltrans employee to die on the job this year.

Caltrans has set up a memorial fund to help his family. You can find it here.

In Sacramento, a memorial honors the lives of Caltrans employees who have died while working. A total of 191 employees since 1921.

"We get so many tragic accidents and so many tragic stories about people not wearing their seat belts," said Officer Mike Salas with CHP Fresno.

CHP says being mindful of other drivers can be critical, even life-saving, on rural roads like this.

"Keep your head on the swivel and make sure you always check, not only your mirrors, but check over your shoulder and take care of those blind spots," he said.

"Definitely be defensive and always expect the unexpected. Because that's when those hazards are going to come out."