An Iraq war veteran was killed Tuesday night when an off-duty deputy’s SUV crashed into a Starbucks in Fillmore, about 20 miles north of Thousand Oaks.
• An off-duty sheriff’s deputy apparently lost consciousness at the wheel and crashed his SUV into a Starbucks.
• The SUV slammed through the wall and pushed a customer — an Iraq war veteran — across the building, pinning him between the vehicle and the wall.
• Firefighters had to use the Jaws of Life to free the victim, who was rushed to the hospital. He died in surgery four hours later.
• Neither alcohol or drugs was a factor in the accident, police said.
Police said 30-year-old Michael Cederland of Pasadena, a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy who was driving a 2007 Chevy Tahoe westbound on Ventura Street — Highway 126 – at the time of the accident. He was off-duty.
Cederland was traveling at speeds that ranged between 40 and 70 mph when his SUV suddenly veered south, crossed two lanes of oncoming traffic, jumped two curbs and crashed through the Starbucks at 650 Ventura Street, Fillmore Assistant Fire Chief Pat Askren said.
Askren said the SUV drove over a strip of landscaping, crossed through a parking lot, and drove between two palm trees before it smashed through a wall of the coffee shop. Witnesses said he did not appear to have braked.
The SUV plowed through Starbucks and pushed 30-year-old Fillmore resident Sergio Mendez, who was sitting in a leather chair inside the coffee shop, to the opposite side of the cafe, Askren said. Mendez, a former U.S. Marine who served in the Iraq war, was pinned between the SUV and a wall.
Firefighters had to use the Jaws of Life to free Mendez, fire captain Billy Gabriel said. It took them 11 minutes to do so. A woman in the coffee shop helped to stabilize the veteran’s head while paramedics treated him, Gabriel said.
Mendez was conscious and talking at the scene, Gabriel said. Paramedics rushed him to Ventura County Medical Center, where he died in surgery about four hours later, according to KTLA News.
James Baroni, Ventura County chief deputy medical examiner, said an autopsy revealed that Mendez died of multiple blunt-force injuries. The death was ruled an accident.
Two other people — 25-year-old Jose Iraheta and 73-year-old Thomas Michaels — suffered minor injuries. They were treated and released.
Cedarland sustained a small cut. He was not arrested. Police do not believe he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash.
“He did not have any alcohol on his breath,” said Ventura County sheriff’s captain Michael Aranda.
Investigators are trying to determine what did cause the solo-vehicle accident. They are looking into the possibility that Cedarland may have fallen asleep or otherwise lost consciousness at the wheel. The off-duty deputy, who was visiblyt shocked and distraught at the scene, said he couldn’t remember anything from before leaving the road until after the crash.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said Cedarland has a desk job with the department and had worked a full shift before the accident.
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