Charred body found in vehicle near Ballico, authorities say

local@modbee.comDecember 2, 2012 

10:20 a.m. UPDATE: Sheriff's officials have said their investigation has been turned over the the California Highway Patrol, as they believe the case to be a traffic accident. The identity of the victim still has not been released.

More details will be posted as they become available.

9:00 a.m.: An investigation into a "suspicious death" is under way in Merced County this morning after the discovery of a body in a burned out car just north of Ballico.

The California Highway Patrol responded to a call of a car fire near Santa Fe Avenue and Pepper Street at 6:10 a.m. When they arrived, they found a body in the passenger seat and no driver.

Detectives with the Merced County Sheriff's Department are on scene along with Cal Fire, which is investigating the cause of the fire, according to spokesman Deputy Tom MacKenzie.

Investigators are trying to determine if the vehicle was involved in a traffic collision.

The gender of the body is unknown, MacKenzie said early this morning.

We'll have more on this breaking story as information becomes available.

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