CAMPTONVILLE (AP) — A wildfire firefighter lying in a road was run over and killed by a colleague in a sparely populated stretch of Northern California in a bizarre early morning traffic incident involving alcohol, authorities said Monday.
California Highway Patrol investigators said a driver in Yuba County early Saturday spotted a man, Michael Patrick Kelly, 32, lying in the road about 3 miles from Camptonville, Calif., which is about 80 miles north of Sacramento.
The unidentified driver flashed his high-beams in a failed attempt to warn an approaching vehicle that it was on a collision course with the man in the road.
The small car with six passengers, driven by Andrew Gruenberg, 26, struck Kelly, who was pronounced dead at the scene with head and torso injuries, the CHP said.
After hitting Kelly, Gruenberg traveled another 2 miles to his destination, telling investigators later that he believed he ran over an animal. A passenger called 911 and reported the collision and a "hazard in the roadway."
After arriving at his destination, two of Kelly's passengers got into another car and drove back to the accident site, where they encountered emergency crews.
"Alcohol appears to be a factor in the collision," CHP officer Greg Tassone. Tassone declined to release any further details, saying the investigation is still active. He did not say who authorities think was drinking.
The U.S. Forest Service said Kelly was a full-time employee and squad boss for the Tahoe Hotshots Crew, which is based in Camptonville.
Gruenberg is a member of the same crew.