PROSPECT, Ore. — A Prospect man is believed dead and his passenger injured following a single-vehicle crash and resulting fire early Sunday morning, according to the Jackson County Sheriff's Office (JCSO).
Deputies responded around 1:15 a.m. following a 911 call reporting a crash in the 1800-block of Mill Creek Drive near Prospect. Investigators later determined that the driver of a 2007 Dodge Ram 2500 was driving southbound on Mill Creek when he left the roadway and hit a tree. The truck then caught fire.
"The driver was ejected into the bed of the pickup during the impact," the Sheriff's Office said. "Witnesses were unable to remove the driver from the pickup bed before it caught fire."
Firefighters from Prospect Fire arrived at the the scene to fight the fire, which began to spread to nearby vegetation.
JCSO said that a man who had been a passenger in the truck was able to walk away from the crash, but had to be brought to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center by Mercy Flights ambulance.
An investigator from the Jackson County Medical Examiner's Office made an initial identification of the driver.
"Based on witness statements and available evidence, the driver has been tentatively identified as Justin Anthony Ghirardo, 41, of Prospect," the Sheriff's Office said. "Further investigation, including scientific studies, is underway to make an official determination of identification, as well as cause and manner of death. Ghirardo’s family has been notified."
Investigators believe that both speed and alcohol use contributed to the crash. A Serious Traffic Accident Reconstruction (STAR) team will continue to investigate the crash.
Jackson County Roads personnel closed the roadway for several hours during the investigation and debris removal.