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Daughter speaks out about freeway worker father killed on 405

July 23, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
The daughter of one of two road workers killed in a crash on the 405 Freeway in Torrance early Sunday morning is speaking out.

Maureen Lopez is devastated after learning of the death of her father, 56-year-old Ramon Lopez of Chino Hills. He and Ricardo Zamora were working on a construction project on the 405 Freeway around 3:30 a.m. when two suspected drunken drivers plowed into the construction zone, striking the two workers. Both men were pronounced dead at the scene.

"He was the strongest and most hardest working man I've ever met, I probably will ever know," said Maureen. "He was always so worried about taking care of his kids and his family, and he was the best man in the whole entire world in my eyes."

The California Highway Patrol says a blue Ford Explorer smashed into the rear of a black Lexus that was slowing down before the construction site, sending the Lexus spinning out of control into the site. The Ford overturned. The crash shut down several northbound lanes for hours at the Artesia Boulevard off-ramp.

"We heard the horrific collision from the impact and then everybody started scrambling, and two guys got killed for no reason," said freeway worker Mike Gillespie.

A third worker was rushed to Kaiser Permanente South Bay Medical Center with minor to moderate injuries.

"It's very sad that they were just doing their job like they do every other night, and a person who had too much to drink just comes by and takes their life away," said CHP Officer Dion Conley.

There have been at least four incidents involving workers on freeways this year. Under California law, vehicles must slow down and move over for any crew with flashing yellow lights.

In this weekend's incident, the driver of the Explorer was identified as Yocio Gomez, 23, of Norwalk. The driver of the Lexus is Stephen Caserta, 43. Both were arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

"Just to get him taken away from us like this, it just hurts," said Maureen Lopez. "I have no anger right now, I have nothing else but pain and shock right now."

Caserta lives in an apartment building in Playa Vista. He bailed out of jail Monday morning. No one answered the door when Eyewitness News visited his residence Monday.

Investigators say they are still putting together the charges. Caserta is scheduled to be arraigned on August 10. Gomez is still hospitalized with injuries.

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