The passenger in a SUV died early Saturday morning after the driver swerved to avoid a small animal, while traveling westbound on Interstate 80 near San Pablo Dam Road in Richmond.
According to a 10:11 a.m. Saturday post on Facebook from the Oakland office of the California Highway Patrol, officers responded to a 12:31 a.m. report of a crash involving one vehicle that was on fire with a passenger trapped inside.
Officers arrived to find a Ford Expedition fully engulfed in flames. They reported that the driver managed to escape with minor injuries. The CHP said the driver swerved in an effort to avoid a small animal in the roadway, lost control, collided with a concrete abutment on the right shoulder and caught fire. Drugs or alcohol do not appear to be a factor in the crash.
As of the CHP post on Facebook, the identity of the victim has not been confirmed.
The CHP issued the following reminder to all drivers:
"If a collision with a small animal is unavoidable, remain calm and do your best to keep control of the car. Swerving out of the way of wildlife can usually make things worse, causing you to lose control or possibly collide with another oncoming vehicle. Colliding with a tree or another fixed object can cause more injuries than hitting an animal. While staying in your lane is generally the safest option, if you suddenly encounter a large animal, such as an adult deer, you may want to swerve as long as it is safe to do so and you have control of the car."