Anthony Ray Riso, 31, of Paso Robles was driving a Shelby Mustang south on Highway 101 at about 1 p.m. when his car crashed off the road near the Highway 46 westbound off-ramp, according to CHP Officer John Ybarra.
The car rolled several times down an embankment as it caught fire. It came to a stop on its wheels and became “fully engulfed” in flames, according to a CHP news release.
Travis Erickson said he was on his way to Jersey Mike’s for a sandwich when he saw Riso’s vehicle barrel-roll and hit a tree, landing right-side-up.
“That’s when we all got out of our cars,” he said.
Three people tried to get Riso out of the car, Erickson said.
“I could see the fuel pouring out of the fuel cell,” he said. “That’s when I thought, ‘It’s gonna blow up.’ ”
Erickson said everyone trying to help Riso stepped back from the scene before the car exploded: “There was nothing you could do.”
The heat of the fire and the driver’s four-point safety belt harness prevented witnesses from rescuing Riso, the release stated. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Drugs and alcohol do not appear to have been factors in the crash, which is still under investigation, according to the release.