Driver burned alive after SUV gets stuck in mud in east Harris County, deputies say

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — The Harris County Sheriff’s Office suspects a mechanical malfunction may have played a part in a driver being burned alive after their SUV got stuck in the mud early Monday, investigators said.

A red Ford Explorer was traveling eastbound on Shields Road around 12:45 a.m. when the victim lost control while going into a sharp, unlit turn. The truck was going too fast, lost control and lands into a nearby ditch, officers said.

HCSO investigator Ryan Musial said it’s unclear whether the driver was a man or woman.

Musial said the roadside was drenched in mud due to the recent heavy rain in the area, and the SUV became stuck. The victim tried to drive the vehicle out, sinking the tail end of SUV even further.

Officers suspect the strain caused a mechanical malfunction that caused the SUV to catch fire.

“It looked like the fire started from kind of the back portion and worked its way forward with the wind,” Musial said. “We don’t know why, or if somehow [the driver] was trapped inside, or why the driver wouldn’t be able to come out.”

Investigators said a witness saw the SUV and called police, but was unable to get to the vehicle quick enough to help the driver.