JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (WIBW) -- The Kansas Highway Patrol identifies Richard Sandoval, 21, of California, as the person driving a car that fled Geary County Sheriff's deputies early Sunday.
Specialist Sandoval was a soldier stationed at Fort Riley.
Authorities told 13 News that deputies attempted to pull Sandoval over for suspected drunken driving just before 2:40 a.m. They said about a minute later, his car went off the road, hit a parked car and then struck a tree.
The 2009 Pontiac G5 that Sandoval was driving then caught fire in the 500 block of West 8th Street near Jackson Street, according to authorities. The deputy and a Junction City police officer tried to get Sandoval out of the vehicle but were unsuccessful.
After firefighters extinguished the blaze, the Geary County Coroner pronounced Sandoval dead at the scene.
A memorial was set for Sandoval at the scene of the crash. Rosalie Jaecke says the tree he hit is on her property and told 13 News that she is upset that a 21-year-old lost his life in her front yard. "I couldn’t believe what was happening. The tree was on fire, the car was on fire and they tried to get the fellow out but they couldn’t get him out. He hit that tree really hard and he was wrapped around the tree and car parts where all over. I had a wheel from the car in my yard when I came out and there were headlights and everything out on the sidewalk. I was very sad that my tree caused this young fellow to die. I feel for his parents," she said.
The incident remains under investigation by the Kansas Highway Patrol. Officials believe Sandoval was killed on impact when he hit the tree. They expect to have preliminary autopsy and test results in several days.
Sandoval was a Petroleum Supply Specialist assigned to the 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.
He was assigned to Fort Riley in June 2011.