One Caltrans worker has died in Santa Cruz County since 1924

Last week, Street Smarts told the story of a Caltrans worker injured when a motorist slammed into his work truck on the rainy New Year’s Eve of 2005.


It reported that while 171 state transportation workers had been killed on the job since 1924, no Caltrans deaths occurred in Santa Cruz County.


Well, some long-time residents recalled a Caltrans worker being killed in the mid-1960s.


Santa Cruz was part of the San Francisco Bay Area Caltrans operations back then, so the current Central Coast office that handles the county’s highways was unaware of his death.


Bay Area Caltrans officials dug up some old records and found that Thad Clement, a 27-year-old landscape foreman, is the county’s only death.


Clement was removing tools from his truck, which was parked on the shoulder of the Highway 1 near Paul Sweet Road around 7:50 a.m. Oct. 26, 1966, when he was struck by an 18-year-old Cabrillo College student, according to a Sentinel article that ran in the evening edition on that date.


Clement had moved to Santa Cruz from Orangevale in March of 1965, reported a Caltrans newsletter dated December 1966. Unmarried, he was an elder in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and a returned missionary, the Sentinel reported.


He was survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jordan Clement, of Orangeville, the Caltrans newsletter said.  

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