Fresno family seeking truth after CHP officer runs stop sign, kills man

Two weeks after the collision, broken glass still marks the spot where the victim's crushed pickup truck flipped.
FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno family is in mourning after a crash killed a man whose friends reached some of the highest offices in the county.

"Why did that man fly through the stop sign?" asked Dominic Ricardo. "Why did he hit my father?"

Initial reports show an on-duty CHP officer may be to blame for killing Fred Ricardo in a car crash.

Dominic Ricardo is lost without his father.

"I feel like a feather in the wind," he said. "I feel like I'm just floating in the sky nowhere to land without my father. He was my everything."

Fred Ricardo died in October at the age of 69.

He was about a mile from home when a CHP officer ran a stop sign and hit him in the intersection of Kearney and Brawley. A CHP public information officer told Action News the officer was not involved in a chase.

Their major accident investigation team is looking into what happened, but they're not ready to release more information and Dominic Ricardo is skeptical.

"To me, how can the CHP investigate the CHP?" he asked.

Two weeks after the collision, broken glass still marks the spot where his crushed pickup truck flipped.

At the scene of the crash, his family has built a Dia de los Muertos altar to Fred Ricardo, including a lot of the things that he loved like softball, and fishing and gardening.

The McLane High School graduate had a lot of friends too, people from all walks of life.

Two former Fresno County administrative officers count themselves among that group and came for Native American prayers and blessings to pay tribute Thursday.

They remember Ricardo as a man of little means, but a wealth of warmth.

"Even though he lived conservatively, if someone needed assistance he would give whatever he had to help that other individual," said former CAO John Navarrette.

"There's a lot of things that Fred's hands touched," said former CAO Linzie Daniel, who considered Ricardo as close as a family member. "He had a big heart. Everyone knew that about Fred."

Ricardo's son's heart sank into his stomach when he found his father's flipped truck behind police tape.

He found the wreckage, found out his father was taken to Community Regional Medical Center as a "John Doe", and sped off to the hospital.

A Fresno police officer pulled him over, listened to his story, and then escorted him to the hospital.

But three days later, his heart broke.

"He was asleep," Dominic said. "He was gone. And I knew I had to let him go. I couldn't let him suffer like that no more. We took out the tubes and they ejected the morphine and we watched my father go in front of me."

Dominic says he feels his father's spirit with him in unexpected cool spots of his home.

He filed a $5 million government claim against the CHP Thursday, which is the first step towards a settlement or a lawsuit, and he thinks his father is standing by his side.

"He's in heaven above, watching over me, guiding me, helping me seek his justice," he said.
Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.