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California investigators are trying to determine how a man became engulfed in flames along the side of a highway Friday morning.
The man, identified as 40-year-old Jerry Mungaray, later died from his injuries, according to a statement from the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office.
California Highway Patrol Officers responded to the area of Sargent Crossing and Highway 101, just outside of Gilroy, shortly before 3 a.m. Friday morning after receiving a report about a fire on the side of the road.
The officers discovered “a man’s body was burning in the fire” and contacted the sheriff’s office.
Mungaray was transported to the Santa Clara County Valley Medical Center Trauma Unit in critical condition with “severe burns” to his body, but the 40-year-old later succumbed to his injuries later that day around 11:54 p.m., the sheriff’s office said.
“Sheriff’s office detectives are actively investigating the circumstances surrounding Mungaray’s death,” authorities said.
Sgt. Michael Low, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, told Oxygen.com the case is being classified as a “death investigation” and said authorities are not able to determine at this time whether foul play is suspected.
The cause of death has not yet been determined by the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office; however, Mungaray’s sister Jasmine Richards referred to the death in a post on Facebook as a murder.
“My heart is so broken today and our lives are forever changed. My kind, loving and caring brother was murdered yesterday,” she said. “My parents got to be with him during his last hours and I got to say goodbye over the phone.”
Richards said her brother had last been seen on Thursday evening in front of a 7-Eleven on 10th Street in Gilroy getting into a “verbal confrontation” with multiple people in two different cars.
“We are asking for help (to) get these sick people off the street,” she wrote. “Jerry was a son, grandson, brother, and Uncle Cool Beaj to my boys and a friend to many.”
She urged anyone with information about her brother’s death to contact authorities.
Mungaray’s father, Jerry Mungaray Jr., said on Twitter that his son had suffered burns on 90% of his body and said the family is now searching for “justice.”
Anyone with information about the case is urged to contact authorities.
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