Father of 3 identified as 1 of 3 killed in crash in Fresno County

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- "I got a phone call around 4 pm and people were saying they thought he was in an accident, so I tried calling him," says Justin Martin.

Martin's call to Matthew Culver was never answered. He soon learned from Culver's family that his very close friend died in a head-on crash Monday afternoon.

"I am just heartbroken," Martin said. "I was with him the night before."

The California Highway Patrol says a Dodge Caravan and a Dodge Ram collided on Highway 33 between Sutter Avenue and Lost Hills Road near Coalinga.

Martin says Culver was in the pick-up heading out of town.

"He was going to Paso to get his truck worked on," Martin said.

He says Culver grew up in Firebaugh and moved to Coalinga, where he worked at Pleasant Valley State Prison for 17 years - seven of those with him.

The correctional officer is remembered as having a strong faith and unconditional love for his family.

Culver leaves behind a wife and three children, his oldest daughter only a few weeks away from high school graduation.

"He was a good man, a very good man," Martin said. "Just by telling jokes or whatever the conversation was about, he touched everybody and always tried to help as many people as he could."

Officials say 39-year-old Natalie Shepherd was driving the other vehicle with her 2-year-old daughter, Savanah Fagundes, as a passenger.

RELATED: Mother and daughter killed in crash in Fresno County, deputies say

They also died at the scene. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

Services for Culver will be on May 14 at 1 pm at the Faith Fellowship Church. If you would to help, you can contact the church at 559-935-9209.
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