Moorpark Man, 19, Dies As Car Crashes, Burns

A 19-year-old Moorpark man died at the wheel of his car after it struck a utility pole and burst into flames on Fifth Street in Oxnard early Saturday, authorities said.

Bernardo Hernandez died still wearing his seat belt in the 1989 Hyundai.

"According to witnesses, he appeared to be unconscious when the fire started," said Senior Deputy Coroner Craig Stevens of the Ventura County Medical Examiner's Office.

A passenger, 21-year-old Celso Ruiz of Moorpark, is under observation in the intensive-care unit of St. John's Regional Medical Center. He is listed in serious condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The accident occurred shortly after 3 a.m. when Hernandez swerved left, striking an electric utility pole as he traveled east on Fifth Street just west of Del Norte Boulevard, police said.

The car flipped at least once, came to rest on its roof and quickly became engulfed in flames. Ruiz was able to escape, but Hernandez was trapped.

Firefighters discovered his body after extinguishing the flames, police said.

An autopsy showed that Hernandez died of asphyxiation from the inhalation of carbon monoxide, Stevens said.

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