Man pruning tree at Newman home killed when driver swerves to avoid hitting cat

Newman, CA – 48-year-old Cornelio Cornejo died Friday morning after a motorist swerved to avoid hitting a cat.

The crash happened at about 7:45 AM according to California Highway Patrol Officer Ming Hsu.

Hsu continued by saying the driver was traveling at about 65 mph north on Eastin in a GMC Yukon with his two children in the backseat when the cat ran out of an orchard and into his path.

He swerved to the left to avoid hitting the cat and continued in a northwesterly direction toward the home where Cornejo was on a ladder pruning a tree.

Hsu said Cornejo was working with his family members who’d been hired to trim the trees at the home.

The Yukon went up a raised berm surrounding the property and became airborne, flying several feet above a 4-foot fence and hitting the tree Cornejo was pruning.

“The tree broke apart from the impact and knocked Mr. Cornejo, who was on the other side of the tree, off the top of the ladder,” Hsu said.

He said investigators are trying to determine if the Yukon hit Cornejo or if he was knocked off the ladder as a result of the crash.

First responders began CPR on Cornejo and a medical helicopter was dispatched to the scene. Cornejo was taken by ambulance to the helicopter landing zone where he was pronounced dead. 

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