Body found next to burning vehicle in northern Wisconsin identified

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Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 11:25 AM CDT
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HUNTER, WI WCCO -- Officials in northern Wisconsin have released the identity of the body found near a burning vehicle last month.

According to the Sawyer County Sheriff’s Office, deputies and other emergency crews on the evening of Sept. 23 responded to a vehicle fire on River Road in the Town of Hunter, which is near Hayward.

When responders arrived, they saw a vehicle fully engulfed in flames on the roadway, and a motionless body -- also on fire -- lying next to the vehicle.

“Due to the extreme heat emergency responders were not able to safely approach the victim,” officials said in an initial release.

The fire was then extinguished and the victim was determined to be dead.

On Thursday, the county coroner’s office confirmed the identity of the victim as 75-year-old William Smith of Antioch, Illinois.

Investigators say Smith, who was driving a 2018 Cadillac sedan, was traveling north on the road when it appears he entered the ditch, struck a mailbox and came back onto the roadway. The vehicle continued on the road a short distance before coming to a stop where it was found in flames.

The incident remains under investigation.