Woman dead after drunk husband causes vehicle to roll off of freeway Thursday night

On Thursday, September 30th, 2021, at 10:37 pm, the California Highway Patrol, Turlock Fire Department, and American Medical Response were dispatched to a reported vehicle collision with injuries on southbound State Route 99 just south of W Monte Vista Ave, Turlock.

When crews arrived on scene, they found a single vehicle involved which was a silver Ford SUV. The vehicle was on its roof in a dirt patch just west of the freeway and there was a female laying next to it unresponsive.

The vehicle had a total of six occupants. Its driver, Luis Rodriguez, 35, of Merced, suffered major injuries and was ground transported by American Medical Response to a local hospital after being extricated from the vehicle by fire personnel. Its front seat passenger, the wife of Rodriguez, Eva Mendoza, 31, of Merced, suffered major injuries which she succumbed to prior to responders’ arrival. She was the unresponsive female who was found laying on the ground next to the vehicle. The vehicle had an additional four occupants, ages 3, 2, 1, and 6 months, who were Rodriguez’s and Mendoza’s children. They were all uninjured but were ground transported by American Medical Response to local hospitals as precautionary measures.

Officers began investigating and determined that the vehicle had just passed the W Monte Vista Ave exit while traveling southbound on State Route 99 when Rodriguez lost control of it and it veered off of the freeway. When this happened, the vehicle collided with a chain linked fence, overturned, and landed on its roof, ejecting Mendoza and making her hit the ground in the process. Officers also determined that Rodriguez and Mendoza were not wearing seatbelts, while their kids were, and that Rodriguez was under the influence of alcohol.

The vehicle sustained major damage and was deemed inoperable as a result of the collision, requiring it to be towed away.

Rodriguez was arrested however later released to the hospital to be treated for his injuries. Upon his release from the hospital, he will be booked into the Stanislaus County Public Safety Center on charges of vehicular manslaughter and driving while intoxicated causing injuries.

The investigation remains on-going. Anyone with information that could assist in the investigation is encouraged to call Officer Juan Nava at 209-545-7440.

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