Lake County News | California

Monday
Sep 01st
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Home News Latest Officials: Investigation into fatal crash involving deputy expected to last several months

Officials: Investigation into fatal crash involving deputy expected to last several months

E-mail Print PDF

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – An in-depth investigation into a crash last week that involved a Lake County Sheriff's deputy and resulted in the death of a Clearlake woman is under way, with a full report not expected for several months.

District Attorney's Office and California Highway Patrol representatives told Lake County News on Friday that the involved and complex nature of the crash investigation likely will mean that it won't be completed until sometime early in 2014.

“There's a lot of unusual factors,” including the seriousness of the incident, particularly the young woman's death, said District Attorney Don Anderson.

He said the CHP and its Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team, or MAIT, are doing the bulk of the crash investigation.

“I don't anticipate having their report for several months,” said Anderson.

The wreck occurred early on the morning of Thursday, Oct. 3, as a Lake County Sheriff's deputy was responding to a report of a home invasion robbery and pursuit in the Lower Lake area, as Lake County News has reported.

The deputy – whose name has still not been released by the Lake County Sheriff's Office – was traveling at a high rate of speed southbound on Highway 29 when he was involved in a head-on crash half a mile north of Diener Drive that killed 26-year-old Gabriela Rivas Garcia of Clearlake.

Following the crash the deputy, who sustained serious injuries, was flown to an out-of-county trauma center.

The sheriff's office has not responded to requests for an update on the deputy's condition.

Anderson said Friday that the deputy was still hospitalized, but he also didn't have a condition update.

Garcia's funeral took place in Lakeport Friday evening. A fund to help send her body home to her family in Mexico has been set up at Westamerica Bank, account number 0356061267.

Anderson said his office and the CHP, in their investigations, are following the critical incident protocol, which usually is triggered in cases involving law enforcement officers, such as officer-involved shootings and incidents like the crash.

Officer Kory Reynolds, the CHP Clear Lake Area office spokesman, said the MAIT team – based at the CHP Northern Division's Redding headquarters – conducts in-depth and complex investigations on crashes.

He said they use special equipment and investigators who are experts in the complex calculations that go along with trying to understand how collisions occur.

The local CHP office is not involved in MAIT's investigation into the fatal crash, Reynolds said.

The MAIT team had last been involved in a fatal crash investigation in Lake County after a bicyclist was killed near Lower Lake in January, Reynolds said.

With the high profile nature of the case and a deputy being involved, “You definitely want the best looking at it,” he said.

CHP Area Commander Greg Baarts had to make the request for MAIT, which decides if it will take on an investigation based, in part, on its ability to complete the work within a certain timeframe, Reynolds said.

Reynolds said MAIT sent several investigators to the scene that day, while at the same time sending a response team to a shooting investigation in the Trinity River area.

The stretch of Highway 29 in the crash area was closed for much of the day Oct. 3 while the MAIT investigators worked at the scene. Reynolds said he believed they managed to complete their work at the scene as well as the inspection of the vehicles all in one day, noting it usually takes much longer.

Reynolds said the MAIT members do extensive mathematical calculations to determine vehicle speed, trajectory, skidmarks and traction, and other factors as they reconstruct how the crash occurred.

“The coefficient of friction is huge and every roadway is different,” he said.

It results in a lengthy process, he added.

“That’s the main reason it takes so long, there’s so many calculations,” he said.

Reynolds estimated that it would be next February or March before the MAIT report was finished.

“For us, it's not about the time, it's about getting it right for everybody involved,” Reynolds said.

When the report is completed, the MAIT leader will come to Lake County to present it to the district attorney and the Clear Lake Area office will receive a copy, he explained.

Anderson said that once he has that MAIT report in hand, he will finish his own report and make his conclusion in the case.

He said MAIT is attempting to calculate the speed at which the deputy was traveling. It's not clear yet if the deputy, who was traveling with his lights and siren activated, was driving at too high a rate of speed.

That will be an important factor in Anderson's determination as to whether or not the deputy has criminal negligence in the crash.

Other factors to consider will be how much training in high speed pursuits the deputy has had and whether or not the sheriff's office has a policy in place regarding pursuits, according to Anderson.

“It's going to be a very difficult decision to make,” Anderson said.

Email Elizabeth Larson at [email protected] . Follow her on Twitter, @ERLarson, or Lake County News, @LakeCoNews.

Subscribe to me on YouTube
Trackback(0)
Comments (18)Add Comment
Greg_Cornish
Just heard Friday A.M.
written by Greg_Cornish, October 18, 2013
While listening to a San Diego radio station just now I heard a speeding officer of the law killed 6 passengers in another car. He has head injuries but is listed in stable condition.
Greg_Cornish
Thanks
written by Greg_Cornish, October 14, 2013
For those of you getting caught up in the ping-pong game, there has been an account set up for this young ladies BODY to be brought back to Mexico for burial. In case it was missed:


Thank you for the info.
LucernedCitizen
Whats Really At Hand....
written by LucernedCitizen, October 13, 2013
For those of you getting caught up in the ping-pong game, there has been an account set up for this young ladies BODY to be brought back to Mexico for burial. In case it was missed:

"Garcia's funeral took place in Lakeport Friday evening. A fund to help send her body home to her family in Mexico has been set up at West America Bank, account number 0356061267."


I am furious with all of this cop talk, kicking this family to the curb in their time of need. The fu¢ing cop lived to talk about it - responding from mid-county. Bar none.

And this:

“There's a lot of unusual factors,” including the seriousness of the incident, particularly the young woman's death, said District Attorney Don Anderson."

Such as......?


This is nothing more than Swiss Cheese. I wonder who will hold up the rug, and who will sweep it under.

MAIT meet TECHNOLOGY. They have answers that will expedite your "months" theorem.


TLC

Greg_Cornish
Rank and file
written by Greg_Cornish, October 13, 2013
I have arrested drunk off duty San Francisco PD officers and firemen that lived in my city. As soon as they saw my blue lights they would stick their badge out of the window and continue driving. When I finally stopped them they were furious. Didn't you see my badge? why did you f**king stop me? They got arrested and our department forwarded the arrest report to their departments. I doubt anything happened. San Francisco in those days was well known for failing to take care of their problem officers. I hope things have changed now.


You never accused them and I never accused you of accusing them. smilies/wink.gif You just brought them into the equation. I already knew about this stuff going on.
Marzocco
...
written by Marzocco, October 13, 2013
Truth1318 I am not covering up excusing anybody. All I am saying is I don't have all the info so I cannot point fingers at anybody. Does it look the deputy might have done something wrong? Maybe but that would be speculation and I don't believe in that.

This isn't about the rank and file, Marzocco. The deputies and staff do great work and this has nothing to do with alleged corruption etc.
Did I accuse the rank & file? Let me know where
jazz
Process versus Public Information
written by jazz, October 13, 2013
Police agencies have taken to caving when it comes to naming officers involved in fatal shootings, crashes and other events where the officer can be at fault. The Peace Officer's Bill of Rights doesn't actually cover events like this but good luck with an official release naming the officer involved.

FWIW - the investigation is supposedly focused on the deputy's driving into the opposing lane when a car in front of him didn't immediately yield to lights and siren. While this maneuver might be legal in an emergency, where it took place and whether he should've given the car in front a couple of seconds to yield are the issues. Again, this is just information obtained from folks in the law enforcement community who don't want to be run out on a rail for leaking - how much stock you put in it is up to you.

Standard disclaimers - investigations like this tend to be complex, especially where you are dealing with questions of speed and split-second decisions made during a Code 3 response to assist other deputies in a high speed chase many miles away. There are only so many law enforcement officers/vehicles available to respond at any one time and Lake County's geography makes things even more difficult.

I've been told who the deputy involved is but I want to do some more checking before making that name public. I'm kind of surprised Elizabeth hasn't ferreted out that information already.

truth1318
re marzoco
written by truth1318, October 13, 2013
it's rediculous for you to keep deflecting and sidetalking everytime something goes wrong and there is a officer involved. this is pretty cut and dry the cop was going to fast plain and simple or he wouldn't have been in the opposite lane.i really don't think a 24 year old girl on her way to work would purposefully hit someone head on. stop pretending that police or any other government employee should be treated different, if anything they should be held more accountable because they are ones who enforce the laws they are breaking. like greg said if this were any average citizen they would already have been in court, and all the info would have been posted in all the papers. it's about time that we as citizens break up this street gang that we call law enforcement. equal rights for all not just people with badges. peace
Greg_Cornish
Not about that
written by Greg_Cornish, October 13, 2013
This isn't about the rank and file, Marzocco. The deputies and staff do great work and this has nothing to do with alleged corruption etc.

I'm objecting simply to policies that withhold information based on status. I feel it's just wrong no matter how much you say, "It's always been like that," or, "That's just the way things are."
I'm objecting to it being that way.

The mother of the deceased daughter is the mother of the deceased daughter no matter who was involved in the accident that took her life. They should have been given the same consideration no matter what the circumstances were and who was involved, in my humble opinion.

The public, the same. It doesn't have to be a final conclusion, just the facts they know are true at the time.

For example: If it had been one of us, they would have at least determined which lane it happened in. We would have been given all kinds of preliminary information they knew to be true.

Is your thinking the CHP doesn't really need to get out correct information right the first time when it pertains to the average citizen? Our investigations are correct the first time when they release information and wrap the case up the next day?

I think we'll continue to disagree here as you tend to see the policy as okay and I don't.
How Dare U
...
written by a guest, October 12, 2013
Lake County news reports state that he is in a secret hospital and yet The Press Democrat stated he was in Santa Rosa Memorial.

My son was shot by someone who tried to rob him. He had an alias name while he recovered in ICU at Stanford Hospital for his safety from the shooter and news reporters as well.
Marzocco
...
written by Marzocco, October 12, 2013
Greg, one more comment. Do I think all police departments and officers behave ethically? Hell no. Do I believe bad cops should be removed? Hell yes.
I have arrested drunk off duty San Francisco PD officers and firemen that lived in my city. As soon as they saw my blue lights they would stick their badge out of the window and continue driving. When I finally stopped them they were furious. Didn't you see my badge? why did you f**k stop me? They got arrested and our department forwarded the arrest report to their departments. I doubt anything happened. San Francisco in those days was well known for failing to take care of their problem officers. I hope things have changed now.
And I am not that naive to believe that SFPD is the only one "taking care" of their officers. But I also know the CHP, especially their MAIT Task Force is much more strict, disciplined and professional than all other departments. They have a policy that if you do the crime you pay for it. The CHP has arrested police officers, senators, Congress members, judges, Deputy DA's, CEO of huge international corporations, famous actors etc. when other departments would have closed an eye.
So accusing them already of "sandbagging" the investigation without knowing all the facts is a slap in their face and very offensive for the hard working officers tasked with investigating a serious delicate and yes politically explosive accident.
Marzocco
...
written by Marzocco, October 12, 2013
If we aren't offered the same considerations when one of the public is arrested then its a crappy system. They come out with info on citizens within hours. "Why do they know "ALL THE FACTS," within minutes to hours when a citizen is arrested or involved in an accident but it takes months for cops?

Cops and firemen are treated differently, not only by people pointing fingers at them but also by the press. When is the last time when a plumber, a clerk, cook, waiter, farmer was arrested that they indicated their job in the news? You would have to look into the arrest records to find out their occupation.
But the first info screaming out of the news is Joe Blow a police officer with Podunk PD or John Doe a fireman was arrested for drunk driving.
And that is not the end of it. How many times have you seen Lisa Blank, a local butcher's daughter was arrested for DUI? BUT how many times the local newspapers write Joseph Public SON of officer Public was arrested for possession of drugs?

The DA and CHP will conduct their investigation to determine the responsibility of the one responsible for the accident because the outcome is much different than for a "normal" citizen. After all what are the odds of a a chef at the local restaurant or an electrician being terminated against the odds of a police officer being demoted or terminated for the same DUI violation? I know cops are held to higher standards and should know better but they are risking much more than a "regular" citizen. That's why the investigation has to be much more thorough than a "regular" traffic accident. And if the deputy is guilty he will have to pay the price. If they cover up the facts and change the outcome I will be one of the dirst to condamn the CHP and DA. But until I have all the facts I will not assume anything. You know what happen when you assume.

Greg_Cornish
...
written by Greg_Cornish, October 12, 2013
They are also hedging the time it will take. If the CHP said it would take 2 weeks and they didn't release the investigation at that time many people, including you would scream cover up. I know it would happen because you and others are doing it now not knowing all the fact.


If we aren't offered the same considerations when one of the public is arrested then its a crappy system. They come out with info on citizens within hours. "Why do they know "ALL THE FACTS," within minutes to hours when a citizen is arrested or involved in an accident but it takes months for cops?

You're admitting its a different justice system.
You're admitting that they treat cops differently and do a more thorough examination of the evidence when their own is involved.
You're admitting they get special treatment.

I never mentioned Rivero by the way. I'd rather he kept his mouth shiut. Something stupid alwats comes out.
Marzocco
...
written by Marzocco, October 12, 2013
It shouldn't be a political situation. Who is threatened by it?

People are already accusing Rivero, his department and the CHP of cover up including you. So, just because Rivero, as usual refuses to talk with the press, especially the LCN, you cannot paint the CHP and DA with the same wide brush. I have been one of the strongest critic of Rivero and his lack of knowledge but in his defense, his department is not the one investigating this incident so Rivero can refer all inquiries to the CHP or DA. I hope Rivero has ordered a concurrent Internal Affair and criminal investigation, but because it is an Internal Affair, by law he cannot release any information.

The CHP and DA have explained what they plan to do and the reason why it will take time. They are also hedging the time it will take. If the CHP said it would take 2 weeks and they didn't release the investigation at that time many people, including you would scream cover up. I know it would happen because you and others are doing it now not knowing all the fact.


I'm not prejudging the officer involved and I hope he comes out fine, however this is not rumor to me. This is cover up, pure and simple. Tell us what is known already then keep investigation. That's what would happen to you and I.

The CHP and DA are reviewing and investigating what happened. It needs to be done thoroughly and methodically. Releasing partial information before the final report WILL cause people to scream cover up if the final report is different from what was "leaked" before. One factor found in the middle of the investigation might change it completely. It takes time. Only on TV crimes are solved in one hour or less considering the time spent for ads.

The DA is also reviewing if the deputy violated the SO Vehicle Pursuit guidelines or a county wide protocol.
My old department, along with all the other law enforcement agencies in our county, created a County Wide Protocol that covered Vehicle Pursuits, Use of Force and Firearms, Death while in the custody of an agency and other activities that could result in unsafe behavior by the officers resulting in lawsuits toward their agencies. If it was determined that an officer violated the Protocol's guidelines the officer would have to pay the consequences for not following them. From reprimand to termination and if warranted criminal charges.
So let's allow the CHP and DA to do their work.
Greg_Cornish
Marzocco
written by Greg_Cornish, October 12, 2013
Would you want another Dinius/Perdock fiasco? I don't.


I'm betting money this is the direction its going. When they don't keep the family up to date and the family resorts to asking what happened of strangers on Facebook - when there is no preliminary information released.. I gotta SMH.

I know you're familiar with this stuff and I appreciate your past service but I also know your were part of the the system. I don't agree with the way the system handles these situations differently than it handles mine, political or not political.

It shouldn't be a political situation. Who is threatened by it?

I'm not prejudging the officer involved and I hope he comes out fine, however this is not rumor to me. This is cover up, pure and simple. Tell us what is known already then keep investigation. That's what would happen to you and I.
Marzocco
...
written by Marzocco, October 12, 2013
Then why would L.E. 'sandbag' like this? They could at least release what they already know, if they weren't so interested in waiting till the heat's off. Instead, they're letting detectives Rumor and Innuendo run the show. They should learn a lesson from Perdock debacle and at least act like they're being forthright. Yet here we sit with crossed eyes and dotted tease.

Comments like this add to the Rumor and Innuendos. You, like the rest of us, don't have all the facts but you have already decided that the CHP will cover up for the deputy. Not a very impartial comment isn't it?
During my past career I have investigated other officers and in the few cases that deserved it, I requested that the officer should be terminated and it happened. So I don't believe the CHP will "sandbag" this investigation.
Rex
Avoid another Perdock fiasco.....?....
written by a guest, October 12, 2013
Then why would L.E. 'sandbag' like this? They could at least release what they already know, if they weren't so interested in waiting till the heat's off. Instead, they're letting detectives Rumor and Innuendo run the show. They should learn a lesson from Perdock debacle and at least act like they're being forthright. Yet here we sit with crossed eyes and dotted tease.

The 'coefficient of friction' ? Doublespeak for 'fuggedaboudit'. They're just circling the wagons around one of their own, as they always do when citizens are injured or murdered in a police action. That much IS transparent.
Marzocco
...
written by Marzocco, October 12, 2013
Greg they use computers. But computers too are worthless if you don't have all the facts to enter in them. As Reynolds said every incident is different due to the condition of the road, the composition of the road surface, the conditions of the tires, speed etc. They also determine the speed by the extent and amount of the deformation of the metal caused by the impact . Skid marks and the deformation of the metal on both cars are used to determine the speed.
My old department sent two of our traffic officers to the CHP to learn how to investigate similar accidents. And I bet the formula used by them many years ago has changed because cars change. More and more plastic is used than years ago.
The two people involved in this incident are due the proper investigation and if it takes months so be it.

If I'm traveling at a high rate of speed and kill a young woman in a head on crash, how long would the investigation last?

Greg you know that an incident involving you or me would not be considered a "political" Hot potato. They'll cross all the "T's" and dot all the "I's" before releasing their investigation. Would you want another Dinius/Perdock fiasco? I don't.
Marzocco
Greg_Cornish
Whoa
written by Greg_Cornish, October 12, 2013
“That’s the main reason it takes so long, there’s so many calculations,” he said.


Try a computer. It does millions of calculations per second.

If I'm traveling at a high rate of speed and kill a young woman in a head on crash, how long would the investigation last?

Would I also be given anonymity and hidden out in a "secret hospital."

Write comment
You must be logged in to post a comment. Please register if you do not have an account yet.

busy
Last Updated ( Saturday, 12 October 2013 04:21 )