Photo Courtesy of Facebook/Madera Police Department
An older black BMW was engulfed in flames on Liberty Street across from Lincoln Elementary School early on April 2. The driver, a 33-year-old Madera man, was found dead inside the vehicle after the flames were extinguished. An autopsy is pending to determine the cause of the man’s death.
A 33-year-old Madera man was found dead behind the wheel of his older model BMW, near Lincoln Elementary School early on April 2 after the car was consumed in a raging fire, according to Madera police.
Luis Echeverria, the victim, did not live in the immediate area and it is not known why he was in the area of Lincoln Elementary School, but after investigating the incident officers believe he may have pulled over after a night out drinking with friends, and then fallen asleep with the engine still running, they said.
Neighbors called 911 after smelling smoke and hearing an explosion about 12:30 a.m. The car’s engine had apparently been running and then slowly smoldering for a while, officers said.
The car was fully engulfed in flames when the fire department arrived. Investigators said the engine was so melted down the exact point or cause of the fire may never be determined due to the extensive damage.
Sgt. Mark Trukki said the incident was caught on a nearby neighbor’s surveillance system and reportedly showed the smoke and fire starting under the hood in the engine compartment and then smoke slowly filling the passenger’s compartment.
Autopsy results indicated Echeverria died of smoke inhalation and thermal burns before the car exploded and was engulfed in flames, according to investigators.
Firefighters found the ignition switch of the BMW still in the on position inside the charred, burned out shell of the car, which Echeverria had reportedly recently purchased.
“In the surveillance footage you can see the smoke start under the hood of the car and then slowly fill the interior compartment before the flames erupted. Toxicology reports are still pending,” Trukki said.