The driver of a 1969 Triumph Spitfire was burned alive on Sunday in Santa Rosa, CA, an innocent bystander caught up in a real-life car chase. The details of the domestic dispute behind the crash are hazy, but the danger of driving an open-topped sports car is clear.
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports that the person responsible for the crash was 28-year-old Ann Howell, who was chasing an unnamed motorcycle rider who veered out of the way of an upcoming Lexus. Howell, in pursuit, hit the side of the Lexus and then the rear of a '69 Spitfire convertible.
The Triumph flipped, trapping its 55-year-old unnamed driver inside. Witnesses reported they could hear him screaming as the car burned. All drivers involved stopped and called for help, but he died on the scene.
Howell was arrested for suspicion of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and reckless driving causing great bodily injury. She and the motorcycle rider had been a couple, but the reason for the chase is still unknown.
While new cars continue to grow more protective, vintage cars remain as frail and exposed as they have always been. A Sunday drive in a classic sports car is still dangerous, just like it was when the cars were new.