San Benito soldier dies in collision

Special to the NEWS

At 2 a.m. Saturday morning, Sgt. Matthew Fernandez was driving on the opposite side of Interstate 14 near the Fort Hood T.J. Mills exit when he struck an oncoming 2013 Kia Optima traveling westbound near the Highway 190 interchange, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

TXDoT stated that Fernandez’s 2017 Toyota Corolla then caught fire and onlookers attempted to free Fernandez from the burning vehicle but were unsuccessful.

Fernandez was a soldier assigned to the 36th Brigade in Fort Hood.

The crash also claimed the lives of the two rear seat passengers of the Kia, identified as 20-year-old Aaliyah Maria Peinado, of Nipo, California, and 22-year-old Joshua Smith of Copperas Cove, Texas, both of whom were not wearing their seat belts, a TXDoT statement read.

The driver of the Kia, 20-year-old Autumn Lynch of Copperas Cove, remains hospitalized in Temple, receiving treatment for a spinal fracture, broken hip, and arm.

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