Road Crews Plow Through Debris, As Homeless Woman Was Sleeping In A Box

A homeless woman from California put her head down to catch a nap in a cardboard box in Modesto earlier this month, but she never woke up. The California Department of Transportation sent a crew in with heavy machinery to clear out the homeless camp where she was living.

The crew accidentally mowed over her as they were clearing away the debris. Authorities have listed the death as an accident.

Shannon Marie Bigley was only 33 years old, and was down on her luck. About a year ago, the resident moved into a homeless camp outside of San Francisco.

On August 1, she was at the camp napping in her cardboard box when a work crew plowed through and killed her.

CalTrans were ordered to step and tear down the makeshift camp that had popped up on the side of Highway 99 in Modesto. Using heavy machinery they rolled over and pushed around all the debris in the field, never realizing the woman was in there.

Workers came across her body and police launched an investigation. Because of this, most of the camp is still standing as a halt was put on the work.

Authorities initially thought that the woman had been murdered, and began to investigate as a homicide.

California Highway Patrol issued a statement at the time. "Our sympathies go out to the family of the woman who was found earlier this month during an encampment cleanup along State Route 99 in Modesto. The incident is currently being investigated jointly by the CHP Fresno area office and the Modesto Police Department," the statement said.

It was later determined that it was the clean-up crew that accidentally killed her. The horrifying revelation was a shock.

One homeless resident says that the cleaning crews usually just come to scoop up and haul away the debris left behind by the homeless. Using a massive frontloader, they scoop up the piles of garbage to haul it away. This time, they used the heavy machinery to break up the entire camp itself.

Clean-up crews with CalTrans have worried that something tragic could happen. For months, the union has been complaining to the state, and even filed a grievance months earlier.

The work crews complained that they are not properly trained or qualified for the homeless camp clean-ups. They also complain they don't have the proper gear for these kinds of jobs.

State officials rejected the grievance. “Only employees specially trained to handle hazardous materials and use (protective equipment) are authorized to enter the encampment to begin cleanup operations,” the grievance read. “We do not believe the department is required to establish crews to perform these duties. There are employees in several maintenance classifications who may be tasked with performing these duties.”

"If you look at their job classification, nowhere is it mentioned that they clean up homeless encampments," said the union chief, Steve Courch. He has called for all homeless encampment cleanings to be stopped immediately.

It is unclear at this point who was operating the machinery that actually killed Bigley. It might have been an employee of the state, or a paid contractor.

Bigley was originally from Oregon. She started living at the camp last year and made her home in the big cardboard box. Investigators don't believe the clean-up crew knew she was there when they came through with their equipment.

Source: Daily Mail
Photos: NeoBatfreak/Wikimedia Generic Photo, KCRA, Daily Mail

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