A California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officer and his dog died in a car accident Monday morning in Warner Springs.
The accident happened around 7:20 a.m. on Monday on state Route 79 and San Felipe Road, according to California Highway Patrol. Officers believe the driver Gilbert Cortez lost control of the car and rolled over. No other vehicle was involved.
Sacramento corrections officer Gilbert Cortez, 46, and a K-9 unit dog named Mattie inside the vehicle died during the incident, according to CHP. Medics took Cortez to a nearby fire station where he died.
The vehicle was traveling south to a facility on Sunrise Highway to perform a search with three other K-9 units, according to CHP officer Brian Pennings. Officers were going to search La Cima Fire Camp, where prisoners work.
Cortez is survived by his wife and two children. He has been working with the K-9 unit for 12 years.
“All of us at CDCR mourn the tragic death of Officer Gilbert Cortez,” said CDCR Secretary Jeff Beard. “He was a valued member of our department and his untimely passing, in the line of duty, is a huge loss to all who worked with him. Our thoughts and prayers are with Gil’s family, friends and colleagues. We are also deeply saddened by the death of Gil’s K-9 partner, Mattie.”
The Belgian Malinois dog worked to detect cell phones and drugs in prison, according to CDCR. She was donated by a San Diego resident and worked with Cortez since 2011.
Officers closed SR-79 at San Felipe Road for seven hours on Monday while they cleared the area.
Check back for updates on this developing story.