ACTON – A Caltrans electrician was struck and killed by a big rig Thursday on the southbound Antelope Valley (14) Freeway in the Acton area, prompting the Caltrans district in which he worked to halt all maintenance activities for a safety review.
Jorge Lopez, a 57-year-old Sylmar resident, died at the scene of the 11:35 a.m. collision at Red Rover Mine Road.
Lopez, who had been with the state transportation agency for 16 years, was standing outside his vehicle on the side of the road when the big rig veered into him. Two other Caltrans employees in their vehicles witnessed the incident, according to a statement from Caltrans.
The truck driver stopped at the scene and was being questioned by California Highway Patrol investigators.
Gov. Jerry Brown said he and his wife, Anne, “were saddened to learn of the death of Jorge Lopez, who worked each day to make our California roads safer. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and many colleagues who are mourning this tragedy.”
Lopez is survived by his wife, Leticia and three adult children, according to Caltrans.
The crash initially prompted a shutdown of all southbound freeway lanes. By about 4:15 p.m., one lane remained closed and southbound traffic was backed up past Soledad Canyon Road and northbound traffic to Escondido Canyon Road.
Flags at the state Capitol will be flown at half-staff in Lopez’s honor, according to the governor’s office.
Lopez’s death was the first since 2005 of an employee of Caltrans District 7, which includes Los Angeles and Ventura counties, and the 185th Caltrans employee to be killed while on the job.
In the wake of the fatality, District 7 called a “safety stand-down to emphasize safety procedures.” Routine and regularly scheduled highway maintenance will be temporarily halted “to revisit and reinforce all aspects of field safety,” according to Caltrans.
The agency also announced its statewide network of electronic freeway signs will remind drivers to be alert for highway workers.
“Today we mourn the loss of one of our own in this tragic incident,” Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty said. “This is an unfortunate reminder of how dangerous highway work can be.”
He said motorists should slow down and move over a lane when passing work crews.