Fiery crash kills one, injures four

Published 3:11 pm Monday, July 9, 2012

A single-car accident that ended in flames cost a local man his life Sunday night.

Washington resident Mario Morales was killed when his Jeep ran off of Morning Star Road in Pantego, flipping several times before coming to rest in a field and catching on fire.

N.C. State Highway Patrol Sgt. Tim Crumpler said the origin of the fire is unknown at this time.

“I don’t know if the gas tank ruptured. I don’t know if it was the heat of the vehicle in the field. It could have been a number of things,” said Crumpler. “(The Jeep) flipped over several times, so the gas tank could have ruptured.”

At the time of the accident, Morales was driving the sport utility vehicle and had four other passengers with him, including two children, ages 11 and 6, said Crumpler. The other passengers were transported to hospitals with nonlife-threatening injuries.

Crumpler said that there was no indication the vehicle was traveling at excessive speed, but that a sharp curve of Morning Star Road was the main contributor to the accident.

“(Morales) ran off the road, straight ahead in a curve,” Crumpler explained. “I don’t know if he may have been going too fast for the curve.”

While there have been accidents on that stretch of the road in the past, Crumpler said, this is the first one in several months. Most accidents reported in that area are caused by a different source altogether, he said.

“That’s a rural part of the county. Most wrecks we get in that part of the county are mainly animal wrecks — people hitting deer,” he said.