A 36-year-old man awaiting trial for killing a pregnant mother when he drove into a family of eight in front of a 7-Eleven store in Rockland County in a case of road rage was found dead in his cell.
Orange County resident Jason Mendez, of Washingtonville, was found dead in his Rockland County Jail cell on Thursday, Aug. 6, the Rockland District Attorney’s Office announced.
Corrections officers reportedly found Mendez shortly after 8 p.m. on Thursday night alone in his cell after attempting to commit suicide by hanging himself.
Officers performed CPR until paramedics arrived, but Mendez was pronounced dead.
Mendez was awaiting trial for the killing of Melissa DeLoatch in February, 2019 outside the 7-Eleven on Central Highway in Haverstraw. He had been charged with one count of murder and seven counts of attempted murder.
The family Mendez mowed down included children ranging from 11 months to 10 years old. The father and six children were treated for injuries and later recovered.
According to reports, minutes before the incident, Mendez and the father of the family had the verbal altercation over smoking. Mendez then proceeded to enter his vehicle, which was parked in the 7-Eleven parking lot, and drive it into the family members.
He then reversed the vehicle and drove forward again, striking the family members for a second time, killing the 32-year-old mother, Haverstraw Police said.
Mendez was stopped in the parking lot by officers from the Haverstraw Police Department. When he exited his car, he allegedly pointed a box cutter at the officer and refused to drop the weapon. Mendez was the ultimately tasered and placed under arrest.
Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Walsh II said that his office will be investigating Mendez’s death with investigators from the Rockland County Sheriff’s Office.
"I had my office immediately contact the DeLoatch family so they did not hear about the death of Mr. Mendez through other sources,” Walsh said in a statement. “It was always our office's hope to bring justice to the victims and their families in this horrific case and we are saddened that it will not be the case
"I would like to reaffirm that my office will work with the investigators from the Rockland County Sheriff's office to conduct a full and comprehensive investigation into the death of Jason Mendez.”
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.