A man who died after getting out of a moving car on Highway 41 on Monday night was a mental-health patient being transported from one treatment facility to another, authorities said.
The Fresno County Coroner’s Office identified the man as Michael Culver, 37. He lived in Clovis, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The incident occurred about 8:55 p.m. on southbound Highway 41 north of Gettysburg Avenue. The CHP said Mark Rios, 41, of Clovis was driving a 2014 Mazda when Culver, in the back seat, got out of the car. He was struck by at least one vehicle, including a 2013 Toyota driven by a 17-year-old girl. Culver died at the scene.
Rios is an employee of Westcare Foundation. Lynn Pimentel, a deputy administrator for Westcare, said Culver was being treated under the state Welfare and Institutions Code 5150, which allows a person considered a threat to himself or others to be taken into temporary custody for treatment.
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Pimentel said Culver had been released from an institution she did not identify and was being taken to a temporary residence where he could stay overnight.
“It’s pretty horrific,” Pimentel said. “Our employee took it pretty hard. I’m sad for the driver and for the person who hit (Culver).”
Spokesman Axel Reyes said the CHP was waiting for a report from the county coroner before establishing a exact cause of death.
“At this point, we are treating it as a collision,” he said.
Pimentel said Culver was being transported as part of a Fresno County program intended to be a provide temporary shelter for those released from 5150 holds until family members or other care programs can help them.
“It’s an overnight stay at a monitored facility,” she said. “It provides snacks, clothes and a hot shower.”
Westcare does not provide treatment for the person, but serves as a link between caregivers.
Danny Ayers, a friend of Culver’s family, said Monday afternoon of Culver: “I can say he was a very nice and warm man. He was dealing with personal issues which contributed to his death, but it needs to be said that he was a father, a grandson and had a smile that would light up a room.”