ATWATER, Calif. (KFSN) --The California Highway Patrol says a 51-year-old Pedro Rocha from Hilmar was killed after he was hit by a Merced County Sheriff's Deputy Thursday evening.
Investigators say around 8 p.m. on Thursday the deputy was driving a Ford Crown Victoria patrol car, on Highway 165 at Third Avenue in Stevinson, when he hit the man, who was walking in the southbound lane. The man was pronounced dead at the scene.
Rocha died at the scene Thursday night in Stevinson -- a small town near Livingston.
The CHP says the deputy involved in the crash is 27-year-old Vincent Lamattina from the Merced County Sheriff's Office. In addition to the investigators on-scene, authorities are bringing in another team known as the Multi-Disciplinary Accident Investigation team to examine the collision.
Lucy Leonard lives on Highway 165, so she knows how fast people drive on this road. "Fast ain't the word for it, honey," Leonard said. "There's like no speed limit."
She saw the aftermath of the crash. At this point, authorities are trying to figure out how fast Lamattina was driving and how he hit Rocha, but the CHP says Rocha was wearing dark clothing and was in the roadway. "I think if you're going to be walking on this highway in the night time you should be wearing something that's bright," Leonard explained.
The area where it happened isn't well lit, but it was down the street from two CHP officers who were dealing with another incident. They rushed over to help, but the man died from the impact. "The last time we had something similar to this was about two years ago when the Merced Police Department was also, unfortunately, involved in a collision," Officer Moises Onsurez explained.
That Merced Police officer was driving a SWAT truck but an investigation later found the driver was not at fault. At the crash scene, there's not much left but concerned neighbors.
With no crosswalk along this major roadway and Leonard believes this could happen to anyone who lives in the area.
Lamattina is on paid administrative leave pending the results of the investigation.