One dead, two injured in car crash near Sebastopol

A driver swerved to avoid a deer and crashed near Sebastopol late Wednesday, according to CHP.|

A Santa Rosa woman was killed and two people injured late Wednesday when they crashed into a tree near Sebastopol while trying to avoid a deer that darted in front of their car.

Karen Bernal Mercado, 25, was not wearing a seatbelt during the crash, which was reported just before midnight on Occidental Road west of High School Road, CHP Officer Jonathan Todd said in a press release.

Mercado was heading to work at a vineyard with driver Esperansa Garcia, 30, and Gabriel Cabrera, 25, both also of Santa Rosa, according to the CHP.

Garcia told officers a deer ran across the road as they traveled west at about ?50 mph. In an attempt to avoid hitting the animal, Garcia steered to the left and then to the right, losing control of the 1997 Honda Accord, Todd said.

The Honda hit a guardrail and then crashed into a tree on the vehicle’s left side. The roof caved in.

The impact threw Mercado, who was sitting in the right rear seat, to the left rear passenger seat, where she was pinned by the damage. Garcia and Cabrera got out of the vehicle with minor injuries. They were taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

Mercado was pronounced dead at the scene.

Garcia and Cabrera were wearing seat belts. CHP Sgt. David Hoff said that a mechanical inspection will be done on the Honda to determine if the vehicle had any issues, including whether there was a working seat belt Mercado could have used.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220 or julie.johnson@press? On Twitter @jjreport.

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