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Starbucks crash: Sheriff’s deputy drove SUV, investigators say

December 14, 2011 | 11:56 am

The driver who crashed into a Starbucks in Fillmore, killing a customer and injuring two others, told investigators he was an off-duty Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy. 

Michael Cedarland, 30, of Pasadena, lost control of his 2007 Chevy Tahoe while driving along Highway 126 through the center of town, authorities said. He told investigators that he fell asleep at the wheel. He was not arrested, but the incident remains under investigation.

"He did not have any alcohol on his breath," said Capt. Michael Aranda, a spokesman for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department. "We’re still trying to determine what occurred. We believe he was either fatigued or had some sort of medical emergency."

He may have been going at an excessive speed, Aranda said. "We’re trying to determine how fast."

The SUV crossed two opposing lines of traffic, jumped a curb, traversed a small parking lot, then smashed through a wall of the coffee shop before coming to rest against the front door frame, where it pinned Sergio Mendez, 30, of Fillmore.

Mendez later died of his injuries. Mendez was a married, former Marine who had enlisted in the National Guard, Aranda said. Then Ventura County Star has identified him as an Iraq War veteran.

Cedarland and two other customers were taken to the hospital and released after treatment for minor injuries.

The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department said it could not immediately confirm that it employs Cedarland.


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-- Howard Blume