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Driver fatally crushed by truck while removing wildfire debris in California

PETALUMA, Calif. -- The wildfires that destroyed wine country in California have claimed the life of another victim -- this time, a clean-up worker. CBS San Francisco reports truck driver Ezekiel Jackson Sumner Jr. died over the weekend when he was struck by his own truck. 

The 60-year-old was dropping off debris from the wildfires Friday afternoon when he wound up pinned underneath his truck at the Republic Services Landfill in Petaluma. He was pronounced dead at the scene. 

"The truck had been backed up to attach to a trailer and the driver was found under the truck," California Highway Patrol (CHP) Officer Jon Sloat said.   

A landfill employee noticed Sumner's truck idling in the middle of a large open area just before 6 p.m., Sloat said. The truck's tires were smoking, the vehicle was in gear and it had backed into its own trailer.

According to Sloat, the landfill employee put the truck in neutral and applied the parking brake. He later noticed Sumner was pinned underneath the vehicle's left rear tires. 

A preliminary investigation revealed Sumner was reattaching his trailer to the back of his truck when the vehicle ran over him.

The truck has since been impounded. 

Fellow truck driver Cynthia Rogers heard the news of Sumner's death on Monday morning. 

"We all feel so bad," she said. "On top of working so many hours, on top of the disaster, we felt so bad for his family and he was just out here trying to help."

Sumner was employed by a subcontractor of AshBritt, which is a company that removes debris. The organization has been accused of unsafe practices in previous disasters. 

All AshBritt crews were told to stand down Saturday. They were required to attend training seminars. 

"We have a lot of these trucks around the area removing debris, so we want as comprehensive of an investigation as we can perform," Sloat said. 

CHP officers are investigating the incident to determine if Sumner's death was caused by mechanical failure, human error or both.  

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