Jackson Family Wines vineyard worker dies in ATV crash in Sonoma County
A longtime local worker for one of the country’s largest wine producers died in an ATV crash Tuesday after his vehicle rolled over in a Bennett Valley vineyard, according to law enforcement.
The death of Luis Gonzalez Valencia, 62, of Santa Rosa at the Jackson Family Wines’ Jackson Park vineyard on Grange Road was reported around 8 p.m. by a woman who noticed her father had not returned from work at the vineyard, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said. She found her father underneath an overturned all-terrain vehicle, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Deputies said the man was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash and was inspecting irrigation lines when his vehicle overturned.
The man had worked for Jackson Family Wines for about 25 years as an irrigator, said Kristen Reitzell, vice president of public relations. The company has never had a fatal accident on one of its vineyards, she said.
“Right now, we’re just doing everything we can to support the family and our employees that knew him quite well,” she said.
Reitzell declined to comment on company safety policies for employees working alone, nor would she say how common it is for employees to operate machinery such as ATVs alone.
“As of right now I cannot comment further because this is part of the open investigation,” she said in an email.
The fatal crash prompted an investigation by California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health following an initial response by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office and the California Highway Patrol.
A spokesman for Cal-OSHA said its investigation to determine the cause and inspect compliance with workplace safety regulations could take up to six months.
Reitzell said Jackson Family Wines would be involved as the investigation continued.
You can reach Staff Writer Will Schmitt at 707-521-5207 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @wsreports. Staff Writer Andrew Beale contributed to this report.