A 2009 graduate of San Benito High School died in a solo-vehicle accident Saturday night just outside Hollister.
Jacob Gonzalez was a 2009 graduate of San Benito High School and was the only person involved in the accident Saturday night at Fairview Road and Maranatha Drive.
The accident occurred at about 9 p.m. at the intersection, according to a county-contracted Calfire unit, which responded to the wreck and a small fire that started after the wreck when the vehicle hit a Eucalytpus tree.
The county firefighters and others with the Hollister Fire Department extinguished the flames.
Details on the cause of the accident were not immediately clear, while an autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday, said Sgt. Tony Lamonica with the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office. Authorities could not immediately, officially identify the victim in the accident due to his injuries.
San Benito High School officials did, however, send a notice by email to staff members informing them of Gonzalez’s passing in the accident.
The California Highway Patrol is investigating the incident, while the Hollister Police Department and San Benito County Sheriff’s Office responded as well.
A CHP spokesperson was not immediately available before press time, but a Hollister police captain noted that the department’s condolences are with Gonzalez’s family.
“It’s a terrible, terrible thing for the community – this on the heels of another one, obviously,” Capt. David Westrick said.
Westrick was referring to the Jan. 13 accident on Union Road at San Benito Street from which 23-year-old Ryan McFall, also a San Benito graduate, died after driver Breanna Stewart, 19, crashed into a light pole. Stewart is suspected of driving under the influence and gross vehicular manslaughter, but the district attorney has yet to receive a report or file charges.
The most recent, fatal accident locally occurred at the site where Leal Vineyards recently contracted for widening to Fairview Road to accommodate a turn lane.
SBHS Director of Educational Services Cindi Krokower said the staff is “keeping a close eye” on students. Normally, if the victim is a current student, the school sets up locations for walk-in appointments with counselors. That isn’t the case with Gonzalez, but the school remains on “heightened sensitivity” because of both recent tragedies, she said.
“We want to make sure counseling staff is aware and on hand,” Krokower said.