STEVINSON, CA – Vincent LaMattina, a Merced County Sheriff’s deputy, struck and killed 51-year-old Pedro Rocha last night on Lander Ave., just past the Stevinson Corner Market near Third Street. “The accident occurred at about 8 p.m. while the deputy was driving a 2011 Ford Crown Victoria,” said Officer Onsurez of the Merced Area CHP.
“Our officers were in the area investigating a DUI collision when they heard the officer involved accident. One of the DUI investigating officers arrived on-scene and began CPR on the victim until medical personnel arrived,” Officer Onsurez said.
Unfortunately the victim had succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.
The victim’s name was released Friday afternoon by the Merced County Coroner’s Office.
According to officer Onsurez, Mr Rocha was wearing dark clothing and a light rain was falling, though he does not know if these were factors in the accident.
“At this time we also don’t know why he was walking in the southbound lane, but there is an on-going investigation,” Onsurez said. “We called in the CHP’s Fresno Division M.A.I.T.E. (Major Accident Investigation Team) whenever there is a major traffic accident or one involving loss of life and law enforcement.”
Many people have questioned the version of events due to a video that was provided to MCNTV News by a passerby shortly after the accident occurred. Like why was the deputies car parked so far from the accident scene and why the body was in the northbound lane.
“These are all questions that we hope to have answered by our M.A.I.T. team soon,” Officer Onsurez said to MCNTV News. “Until that investigation is complete we are asking anyone who may have witnessed the accident or may have captured video to please contact my office at 209-356-2958.”
When asked why the incident was not logged on the CHP’s website, Officer Onsurez stated that he does not know if it was or was not posted because they do not handle the website and what calls are posted or not posted to it.
There have been at least six people killed by vehicles while walking on or next to Merced County roadways since November of last year.
The sheriff’s deputy, who was alone in his vehicle at the time and was not transporting anyone at the time of the accident, has been placed on paid administrative leave until the investigation is compltete. He has been with the department since 2013, Sgt Shelton told MCNTV News, and that it is a routine procedure when during a deputy related investigation.
The roadway remained closed until 1 45 a.m. Friday while the Fresno Division’s M.A.I.T unit investigated the scene.