Homeless Woman Killed as Caltrans Crews Clean Modesto Homeless Encampment

Warning: The incident described below is graphic.

MODESTO -- A homeless woman was killed by heavy equipment after a homeless encampment in Modesto was cleared out by a Caltrans crew on Aug. 1.

It is pretty routine for Caltrans crews to clear entire homeless camps from an area along Highway 99 in Modesto. What is unusual is someone dying in the process.

A man, who did not want to be identified, told FOX40 a woman he knew named Shannon was brutally killed as a Caltrans front loader came through to clear the camp.

Homeless himself, the man says crews usually do a walkthrough to make sure no one is inside living spaces before vehicles drive through, which FOX40 confirmed to be true with a Caltrans union representative.

"Usually you’ve got 10 people on foot. A tractor, a couple trucks," the man said.

People living in the encampments say Shannon was living with her boyfriend when the accident happened. They say she was sleeping in a cardboard box.

Many of them 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."

"The details of that situation are still under investigation by Fresno CHP and we’re not providing interviews right now," said Caltrans Public Affairs Representative Chantel Vernon.

Vernon would not answer any questions about the death. FOX40 was not sent any information by Wednesday night after asking about the protocols workers are meant to follow when cleaning homeless camps.

A few months before the incident, a Caltrans union representative FOX40 spoke with over the phone said he filed a formal complaint with Caltrans. 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.