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Calif. Sheriff's Detective Killed, Deputy Injured in Crash

Aug. 18--NEEDLES -- A San Bernardino County sheriff's detective was killed and a deputy seriously injured early Saturday when the vehicle they were traveling in crashed into a tractor-trailer that had just rolled over in front of them, California Highway Patrol and sheriff's officials said.

Martin Landaeta, a 14-year-veteran with the department, died after his vehicle crashed into the disabled tractor-trailer on the eastbound 40 Freeway near J Street, according to the CHP website.

"This is a very sad day for the men and women of the Sheriff's Department," Sheriff Rod Hoops said Saturday. "He was a great guy."

Landaeta was traveling with his wife and an unidentified sheriff's deputy to Laughlin, Nev., for River Daze, a two-day barbecue hosted by the sheriff's Colorado River station, when the crash took place, Hoops said.

"A lot of us were heading out that way," he said.

According to CHP officials, the tractor-trailer was traveling in front of Landaeta's Dodge Challenger when for unknown reasons the driver lost control of the vehicle and it rolled over.

San Bernardino County Fire Department rescuers who were called out pronounced the sheriff's detective dead at the scene. The deputy suffered a serious injury. Landaeta's wife was not seriously injured and was expected to be released from a Needles hospital Saturday, officials said.

Landaeta spent most of his career with the Sheriff's Department at the Chino Hills station, Hoops said. He recently became a detective and his last assignment was with the homicide detail.

The unidentified deputy is new to the department and is assigned to the Chino Hills station, Hoops said.

Reports indicate Landaeta was driving the Challenger when the crash occurred. CHP officials do not believe alcohol was a contributing factor in the crash.

The condition of the passengers in the tractor-trailer was not immediately known.

Copyright 2012 - San Bernardino County Sun, Calif.