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UPDATED: Police release name of man killed in early-morning crash in Phoenix

 Posted: 7:15 AM January 29, 2013

Updated 4:10 p.m.

The driver who died after his Jeep Wrangler veered off Highway 99 for unknown reasons this morning has been identified.

Matthew Lee Wilson, 24, was driving northbound on the highway south of Phoenix just after 3 a.m. when his car veered off the road, struck a power pole and a tree, and caught fire.

Wilson was a sous chef at Omar's in Ashland, where he used to live, according to his Facebook page.

Updated 7:45 a.m.

The driver of a vehicle that slammed into a tree before it caught fire near Phoenix earlier today is believed to be a male, but that was tough to gauge for authorities because of the extent of the person's burns.

"As far as we know, we think it's a male, but it's unsure at this time," said Sgt. Tyler Lee of Oregon State Police.

Lee added the vehicle was registered to a male at an apartment complex in Ashland. Management said that the man no longer lived there. OSP would not release the vehicle owner's name, as next of kin have not yet been notified.

"We're kind of at a dead end right now," Lee said. "We don't even know who to notify at this point."

Police said the vehicle was traveling north on Highway 99 toward Phoenix when it drifted off onto the right shoulder and traveled down a steep gravel embankment into a field below. It then struck the tree and caught fire.

"On the way he sheared a power pole in half," Lee said.

7:16 a.m.

An early-morning car crash in Phoenix left a motorist dead after their Jeep Wrangler left Highway 99 near Cabbage Lane, struck a utility pole and oak tree, and came to rest before catching fire.

The initial incident was reported at 3:04 a.m. today. Crews from Jackson County Fire District No. 5 responded.

"As we went responding, we were updated by our dispatch saying the vehicle was on fire and the possible occupant (was) still in the vehicle," said Capt. Tony Halley of Fire District No. 5. "We arrived on scene and it was fully involved at that point."

Two engines responded to the crash, along with seven firefighters. Police from Talent and Phoenix police, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department and Oregon State Police also responded.

Crews had the fire knocked down within three minutes. The driver, who was pronounced dead on arrival, was extricated from the vehicle afterward, which took about 20 minutes. Their identity has not yet been released.

"From what we could tell, the vehicle had ended up off the road and into a large oak tree," Halley said.

The crash's cause is still under investigation by OSP.

— Ryan Pfeil


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