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Could this be 2022’s first Sonoma County farmworker harvest death?

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Above: Screen capture from eyewitness video. Reproduced by permission


One man was killed and another received minor injuries in a very-early morning automobile/tractor collision west of the town of Sonoma on September 14 shortly after 1 a.m.

 

Official and eye-witness details are confusing, but according to the California Highway Patrol (CHP) incident report (below) a man standing next to a tractor stopped on the shoulder of northbound Arnold Drive, near Olive Avenue was struck and killed by a passenger vehicle while speaking with the tractor driver.

 

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According to the official CHP report, the tractor was pulling a trailer, but CHP did not have details on the contents or whether it contained recently harvested grapes.

 

An eyewitness told Wine Industry Insight that there appeared to be two tractors and that both had emergency lights flashing. However, as seen in the video screen capture (top, above) the scene was confusing and she may have been mistaken flashing lights on the trailer for a second tractor.

 

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department identified the deceased as Napa resident Querubin Hernandez-Gutierrez, 29, of Napa. The CHP report had previously identified Hernandez-Gutierrez as a resident of Woodland.

 

The circumstances of the incident are not completely known, and the CHP has not responded to a list of questions submitted by Wine Industry Insight (below).

 

Once full details emerge, Hernandez-Gutierrez may turn out to be the first ag/vineyard worker death of the 2022 grape harvest.

 

According to the CHP report, Hernandez-Gutierrez was standing on the roadway side of the New Holland tractor,  talking to its driver, Alexis Alejo-Sotelo of Vallejo.

 

At that time, a 2015 Ford driven northbound on Arnold Drive by Abimael Mata-Juarez of Sonoma drifted onto the shoulder, collided with the corner of the trailer and then continued on to strike, and kill Hernandez-Gutierrez.

 

The eyewitness told Wine Industry Insight that the Ford rolled over and landed upright. CHP Mata-Juarez remained at the scene. According to the CHP report, Mata-Juarez had no signs of impairment and was released to seek medical care.

 

Alejo-Sotelo received minor injuries and was treated at Providence Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa.

 

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Questions remain

Among the questions Wine Industry Insight submitted to CHP:

    * Who were the tractor drivers working for? A winery? Vineyard management company?
    * Were there two trailers or just one? what type of load?
    * If the trailer load was grapes, did surviving tractor driver indicate that the load was being transported (or had been transported) to a winery?
    * If indicated (above) what was the name of the vineyard? The winery?
    * How were the tractor(s )and trailer(s) removed from the scene? Was a second driver called in?
    * Was speed a factor in the collision?

Additional Information Requested

Anyone with additional information is requested to email Lewis Perdue, Wine Industry Insight Executive Editor, lewis.perdue@wineindustryinsight.com