DUI driver receives 10-year sentence after fatal car accident

By: Gloria Beverage, Placer Herald editor
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Jacinto Mendoza, 21, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Jan. 26. The driver of a vehicle involved in a solo accident that resulted in the death of 19-year-old Matthew George of Rocklin had accepted a plea bargain, reported Lonnie George, father of the victim. Mendoza faced four felony charges: driving under the influence, hit-and-run, child endangerment and felony manslaughter. “He will probably get out in five years – with good behavior,” Lonnie George added. Shortly after midnight on Aug. 12, Mendoza was driving a borrowed vehicle on eastbound Highway 50 near 65th Street when he lost control of the car and hit a retaining wall. Witnesses told California Highway Patrol officers that the vehicle appeared to be weaving just moments before it smashed into the retaining wall. Following the crash, Mendoza fled the scene, but was later located near Power Inn Road. At the scene of the accident, paramedics found two children under the age of 5 and three adults with non-life-threatening injuries. Later that morning, the body of Matthew George was found in a field below the freeway. Apparently, the Whitney High School grad had been riding in the hatchback area of the Subaru Legacy and was ejected over the freeway bridge. Lonnie George indicated his son met Mendoza a few hours earlier while hanging out at Paradise Beach on the Sacramento River. Mendoza, who was set to report for duty with the National Guard the day after the crash, was partying and offered to drive the car that belonged to one of the passengers.