Warning: The incident described below is graphic.
A woman was killed earlier this month when she was struck by a piece of heavy machinery that Caltrans was using to clear out a homeless encampment in Modesto, KTLA sister station KTXL in Sacramento reported Wednesday.
The 33-year-old woman was sleeping in a cardboard box on Aug. 1 when Caltrans began clearing the entire encampment from an area along Highway 99,
One man who did not want to be identified told KTXL said that a woman he knew named Shannon was brutally killed as a Caltrans front loader came through to clear the camp.
Homeless himself, the man said crews usually do a walkthrough to make sure no one is inside living spaces before they begin their work -- something KTXL confirmed with a Caltrans union representative.
"Usually you’ve got 10 people on foot. A tractor, a couple trucks," the man said.
Shannon was living with her boyfriend when the accident happened, according to others who occupied the encampment. She had been sleeping in a cardboard box at the time.
Many who spoke with the station described a gruesome scene. Some saw the aftermath of what they say was a vehicle running over her body.
"Parking lot-sized mess on the ground, on the grass," the man said. "She was smashed, man."
A Caltrans official declined to speak with KTXL or answer any questions about the incident, citing the ongoing investigation by the California Highway Patrol.
A few months before the incident, a Caltrans union representative KTXL spoke with over the phone said he filed a formal complaint with agency. He said his crews should not be cleaning homeless camps at all because they’re simply not equipped or trained to do so properly.
He filed a similar complaint on Wednesday.