Steel company founder's son, 47, dies after wreck

A man whose father founded the Bambacigno Steel Co. in Modesto died Wednesday after a slow-moving truck crash, police said.

Chris Bambacigno, 47, died of a heart attack shortly after his truck collided with a car on Claratina Avenue near McHenry Avenue, said his sister, Lori Bambacigno.

Chris Bambacigno had congestive heart failure and was on his way to a doctor's appointment when the accident happened.

Witnesses saw Bambacigno slumped over the wheel of his truck as the vehicle traveled west on Claratina at 10:43 a.m., said police Lt. Chris Fuzie.

Bambacigno's vehicle veered into the eastbound lane at slow speed and collided with an eastbound car. The woman driving the eastbound vehicle wasn't injured, Fuzie said.

After the accident, Bambacigno got out of his truck and told emergency responders he was not hurt and felt fine, Fuzie said. Bambacigno called his wife, who came to the scene, Fuzie said.

A few minutes later, Bambacigno complained of shortness of breath. He was taken by ambulance to Memorial Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, Fuzie said.

Bambacigno's father, Ralph Bambacigno, founded Bambacigno Steel in 1956. The company, on McHenry Avenue at Claribel, fabricates structural steel.

Chris Bambacigno worked for the family business until 2000. He then started his own business designing custom barbecue grills, Lori Bambacigno said.

When he wasn't working, he liked fishing and football, his sister said. He and his wife had two daughters and one son.

Lori Bambacigno said her brother was a creative, well-liked man.

"You just couldn't help love him. He was just a big teddy bear," she said.

Bee staff writer Leslie Albrecht can be reached at or 578-2378.