Off-duty sheriff’s deputy from Pasadena involved in fatal crash in Fillmore

FILLMORE — An off-duty sheriff’s deputy from Pasadena crashed his SUV into a Fillmore coffee shop late Tuesday, killing a Iraq war veteran, after officials said he fell asleep or lost consciousness while at the wheel.
Driver Michael Cedarland, 30, suffered minor injuries in the crash that killed 30-year-old Sergio Mendez of Fillmore and inflicted minor injuries on two other men, according to sheriff’s officials in Ventura and Los Angeles County.
Investigators in Fillmore were still trying to determine why Cedarland lost control of his SUV and plowed into a Starbucks at 650 Ventura Street, Ventura County sheriff’s Deputy Jerry Peterson said in a written statement, however drugs or alcohol were not initially suspected to be involved.
“Investigators are looking into the possibility Cedarland lost consciousness while driving,” Peterson said.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said Cedarland was a seven-year veteran of the department who works a desk job in the agencies custody division. He declined to say where specifically Cedarland works.
“He’s devastated by this,” Whitmore said. “It appears to be a tragic accident. The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department extends its thoughts and prayers to the family of that young man.”
“He fell asleep or lost consciousness, we don’t quite know what happened,” Whitmore said.
Cedarland’s employment status was unchanged by the crash, he added.
The crash occurred about 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, Peterson said. Sheriff’ and fire officials found the building completely inside the coffee shop when they arrived.
“The vehicle broke through the east wall of the business, traversed through the customer lobby area, and came to rest inside at the front door,” he said. “The vehicle pinned one of the customers, Sergio Mendez, against the front door frame, which required heavy rescue from the members of the Fire Department.”
Mendez was rushed to a hospital where he died while undergoing emergency surgery, Peterson said.
Two other Starbucks customers, a 25-year-old Lancaster man and a 73-year-old Piru man, were also hospitalized for treatment of minor injuries, officials said.
Cedarland said he couldn’t remember anything from before leaving the road until after the crash, said Ventura County sheriff’s Deputy Jerry Peterson. Witnesses reported he apparently didn’t try to brake.
It was not clear where Cedarland was heading to or from when the crash occurred, Whitmore said, adding that details will continue to emerge over the next few weeks.
Shawn Haney, a Marine spokeswoman, told the Star that the victim’s full name was listed in records as Sergio Raul Mendez-Burgos. During his time in the Marines, Mendez received a Combat Action Ribbon and Presidential Unit Citation.
- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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