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GRASS VALLEY, Calif. March 22, 2019 – On March 21, 2019, at 9:04pm, Sacramento Communications Center (SCC) received a 911 call from a friend of a motorist involved in a traffic collision somewhere on SR-49 in an unknown location near the City of Grass Valley.  SCC advised the friend to have the involved party call 911 directly.  The involved person then called 911 from his cellular telephone and spoke with SCC and to Cal Fire personnel; however there was a language barrier and communication was difficult.  The caller’s cellular telephone was indicating it may be in the vicinity of Cherry Creek Road or Mother Lode Road.  Both CHP and Fire fighters searched SR-49 between La Barr Meadows Rd and Cherry Creek Rd, eventually locating the collision scene on the east side of SR-49 south of Lime Kiln Rd.  The vehicle was difficult to locate since it had slid off the roadway and went down an embankment approximately 40 feet into the darkness.

CHP units, arrived on scene to find a silver 2006 Honda Civic, 2 door, with major damage overturned and in heavy brush on the east side of SR-49 and down an embankment.  There were two occupants in the vehicle at the time of the collision.  The driver, Joaquin Lopez Pinto, received minor injuries from the collision and was transported by ambulance to Sutter Roseville Medical Center.  However, the front passenger was apparently not wearing a seatbelt and received fatal injuries from the collision.

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There were no witnesses to the collision located, but physical evidence at the scene indicates the Honda was traveling at an extremely high rate of speed prior to and during the collision.  There were no indications drugs or alcohol were at factor.  The driver was examined, treated for any injuries, and then discharged from the hospital.  Due to the fact the driver was driving while unlicensed and also driving in a grossly negligent, reckless, manner which caused the collision and was the proximate cause of his passenger’s death, the driver was arrested for 192c1 PC – felony vehicular manslaughter.  The driver was transported to Nevada County Jail and booked for 192c1 PC.

Cal Trans was requested and responded to the scene setting up a lane closure of the northbound #2 lane of SR-49 for approximately 800 feet.  The #2 lane remained closed during the investigation and during recovery of the vehicle down the embankment.  The lane closure was in place from approximately 10:00pm  to approximately 12:10am.  Traffic was free flowing and unaffected by the lane closure.

DRIVER:  Joaquin Lopez Pinto (28 year old male from Auburn CA)

PASSENGER (deceased):  Identity withheld until next of kin notifications are made.

TRAFFIC:  Cal Trans established a hard closure of the northbound #2 lane of SR-49 south of Lime Kiln Road from approximately 10:00pm to 12:10am.  Traffic was light, unaffected, and free flowing for the duration of the lane closure.