Fresno Caltrans worker killed in crash was a loving dad, selfless community leader

"Everybody asks - 'What about me?' when Ali was the type of brother to ask you, 'What about you, brother? Are you ok?'"

Alyssa Flores Image
Wednesday, August 10, 2022
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48-year-old Ali Shabazz spent his days serving his community as the imam of a Fresno mosque and his nights as a civil engineer for Caltrans.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It would have been a night like any other for 48-year-old Ali Shabazz, a civil engineer for Caltrans on the overnight shift.

He was taking rural roads south of Mendota on his way to a job site on I-5 when the California Highway Patrol says a man in a Nissan drove right through a stop sign and crashed into the driver's side of Ali's truck.

Neither of the men was wearing a seat belt. They both died at the scene of the crash.

Ali and his wife Nia met when she was in 9th grade and had never been apart since then - until now.

She says it's hard to describe the void left behind for her and their eight children.

"There wasn't a day that they didn't have their father. There wasn't a day that they couldn't call their dad and there wasn't anything that he wouldn't have done for them," she says.

Ali will also be missed at the Masjid Al-Aqaba, where he stood to lead hundreds in jummah prayer every Friday as the head of the mosque.

His days were spent serving his community as the imam. But since he donated every penny he was paid in that role back to the mosque, his nights were spent working for Caltrans to provide for his family.

Ali's friend Musad Damis-Salaam says he rose to the occasion when the mosque needed a new leader, expecting nothing in return.

"He would head over here and he would be over here until the hour that he had to go to work so he dedicated most of his life at work and here at this masjid," he says.

"Everybody ain't designed to give that much of themselves to the community. Everybody asks - 'What about me?' when Ali was the type of brother to ask you, 'What about you, brother? Are you ok?'"

Adds Nia:

"This community I know will miss him. I can see it already. And I am proud to have been there with him for 31 years, I am proud."

The flags at the State Capitol are at half-staff in Ali's honor.

Caltrans has set up a memorial fund to help his family.