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Va. man identified as dead driver

November 07, 1997

Va. man identified as dead driver

By DON AINES

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Bassett, Va., man has been identified from dental records as the man killed last Thursday when a pickup truck loaded with suspected moonshine crashed and burned on Interstate 81 near Inwood, W.Va.

Melvin L. Camden Jr., 27, apparently fell asleep at the wheel, according to Chief Deputy John Vanorsdale Sr. of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department. He said there were no treadmarks or gouges in the pavement that would indicate a blown tire or other equipment failure on the Ford Ranger pickup.

Camden was northbound at 3:43 a.m. when the truck ran off the road and struck a tree. The pickup and its cargo of approximately 200 gallons of moonshine went up in flames, burning Camden's body beyond recognition.

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The sheriff's department had a tentative identification of Camden following the accident, but no dental records to confirm who he was.

Camden's parents went to Berkeley County Monday to deliver some of his clothing for DNA sampling, Capt. Curtis Keller said Tuesday.

The parents supplied the department with the name of a dentist Camden had seen several years ago, Keller said.

The dentist sent X-rays to state Medical Examiner Jack Frost, who made the identification, he said.

Frost's autopsy showed that Camden died of multiple traumatic injuries, burns and smoke and soot inhalation, Vanorsdale said Thursday. Frost's report said he would have died even if the truck and its cargo had not caught fire.

Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms spokesman Brad Earman said Thursday the ATF is assisting Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control agents in an investigation of moonshining in connection with Camden's death.

Bassett is located in southwestern Virginia in Henry County.

In neighboring Franklin County, Va., Sheriff W.Q. Overton said he had been contacted by the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department to trace the owner of the truck.

He said Thursday the county sticker in the pickup had been issued for a vehicle there, but it did not belong to Camden.

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