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2 Surveyors Hit, Killed in Lake Forest : Accident: The workers died instantly when a passing mail truck struck them. The deaths are the first in connection with the Foothill Transportation Corridor toll road project.

April 14, 1993|ERIC YOUNG and FRANK MESSINA | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

LAKE FOREST — As shocked co-workers looked on, a mail truck hit and killed two road surveyors as they stood at a work site Tuesday, authorities said.

The two men were thrown about 50 feet and died instantly in the 12:45 p.m. accident along Lake Forest Drive just north of Rancho Parkway. The men's names were withheld until their families could be notified, but they were described as Riverside County residents, ages 31 and 33.

"They never saw what hit them," said Robert Krup, an employee of CTM Construction, who was working at the site.

Sheriff's deputies interviewed Francis Joseph MacMillian, 36, of Whittier, who authorities said was driving a truck contracted out for mail delivery. MacMillian was later released, pending the outcome of an investigation. He was not arrested or cited.

The surveyors, who worked for Coast Surveying Inc. of Irvine, were standing near their pickup truck under a pair of bridges crossing Lake Forest Drive, witnesses said. The men were plotting where construction crews will build a toll road under the Foothill Transportation Corridor project.

The deaths are the first in connection with the 17.8-mile toll road project, said Mike Stockstill, a spokesman for the Transportation Corridor Agencies, which oversees the design, building and financing of the toll road.

The mail truck was traveling north along Lake Forest Drive at an unknown speed and struck the two surveyors with its right front bumper, said Lt. Dick Olson of the Sheriff's Department.

After the accident, MacMillian stopped his truck and walked back to the two men, according to witnesses, who said he then sat down on a nearby curb, dropped his head and waited until sheriff's deputies arrived.

"There was nothing anyone could do for them," said Ray Alford, co-owner of CTM Construction. "There was never any signs of breathing."

Alford said there were a few cars driving by at the time. "They just went on by and didn't stop," Alford said.

The construction site is about half a mile from the nearest strip mall in Lake Forest, as Lake Forest Drive heads into canyon country. Rolling hills, brown gullies and trees dot the landscape.

The work site supervisor will investigate the fatal accident and report to Ebensteiner Co. of Agoura Hills, which is the general contractor and oversees all work at the site, said Don Gladden, vice president of Ebensteiner. Workers have been at the site since November, 1991, he said.

Gladden said both men were members of the Union of Operating Engineers.

Passing motorists are a major threat to roadside workers, said Rose Orem, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, whose workers perform highway maintenance or cleanup statewide and are often injured by vehicles.

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