Sonoma County authorities say they’ll have to use DNA or consult dental records to confirm the identity of a driver whose car burst into flames Sunday after crashing into a tree near Windsor.
The driver, reported by witnesses to be a young man, was burned beyond recognition in the aftermath of the morning crash on Eastside Road near Riverfront Regional Park. It could take several days before the Sonoma County Coroner’s Office makes a positive identification, sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Crum said Monday.
The car, a 2004 silver Nissan 350Z coupe, had an expired registration, authorities said. The car had never been registered under the new owner’s name, CHP Officer Dave deRutte said.
Authorities, nonetheless, believe they know the driver’s identity but cannot be sure without additional investigation, Crum said.
The accident occurred around 8:30 a.m. Sunday when the southbound driver entered a curve in the road a short way past the park entrance at what the CHP said was “an unsafe high rate of speed.”
The driver lost control of the car, which careened off the west side of the road, slamming into a power pole and a tree, the CHP said. Several people saw or heard the crash and rushed to help. A motorist tried to pull the man from the wreckage a minute or so before it caught fire, said nearby resident Curtis Patience, who ran outside after hearing screeching wheels followed by the sound of impact.
Patience said the intrusion of the tree and the power pole made it impossible for the motorist to remove the driver from the bent metal of the car. He said a small fire underneath the car caused witnesses to back away quickly in the moments before flames engulfed it. He said the situation was tragic for all concerned.
“The guy who tried to pull the kid from the car? He’s going to live with that,” Patience said. “It’s awful, but he tried.”
Windsor firefighters arrived and doused the flames, and declared the driver dead.
CHP officers are investigating the crash. Anyone with information should contact them at 707‑588‑1400.