Firefighters responding to a reported vehicle fire arrived to find the car engulfed in flames, a seriously injured passenger and the driver with fatal injuries.
At 12:23 am Saturday morning, firefighters from Engine 9 responded to a vehicle fire on Rose Garden Road on the curve near SW 6th Place. Updated dispatch information from multiple 911 calls indicated a vehicle crash and somebody possibly still in the car. Engine 9 called for assistance and Ladder 6 along with Battalion Chief Ken Ossowicz were added to the alarm. Crews arrived to find a sports car on fire with the back end of the car impacted against a palm tree in the median.
According to Ossowicz, bystanders helped a female passenger, identified as Susan Reynolds, 28, 2903 52nd Street West, Lehigh Acres, from the car before the Fire Department's arrival. She was transported by Lee County EMS with major burns from the fire.
Police officials said she incurred life-threatening injuries with burns over more than 65 percent of her body and was trauma alerted to Tampa General Hospital.
The driver, reported by the passenger as a male, was unable to escape.
Firefighters extinguished the fire within minutes after arrival and stood by awaiting traffic homicide investigators from the Cape Coral Police Department and the Medical Examiner's Office. Firefighters provided scene lighting to assist the police in their investigation and used a power saw to open the driver's door to aid the removal of the driver but no other extrication tools such as the Jaws of Life were needed.
While the cause of the crash is under investigation by the Cape Coral Police Department, visual clues at the scene indicate speed may have been a factor. The roads and grass in the median and on the shoulder were still damp from the thunderstorms earlier in the evening.
The fire department offers some safety tips for driving in such conditions:
According to the Florida Driver's Handbook, if your vehicle leaves the road surface onto the shoulder, do not snatch the steering wheel to get back in your lane. Sudden movements, especially in wet grass, can cause a car to spin out of control. Cape Coral Fire Department reminds drivers that you should:
Take your foot off the gas pedal if you go off the road surface.
Hold the wheel firmly and steer in a straight line.
Wait until the road is clear.
Turn back on the pavement sharply at slow speed.
Maintain the speed limit and slow down in areas such as curves or pockets of standing water on the road. Braking takes longer on slippery roads - the slower you go, the easier it will be for you to maintain control and stop your vehicle.
Source: Cape Coral Fire Department