The county Coroner's Office has tentatively identified the man who died Jan. 31 in a fiery head-on crash on the Cuesta Grade as Jesus Landeros Valenzuela, 41, of Grover Beach.
The CHP has ruled the death a suicide, saying that Valenzuela deliberately crossed into the opposing lane of traffic and hit a tractor-trailer head-on to take his own life. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The sheriff’s office says that forensic identification work remains, but coroner investigators have enough information at this point to release the man's name.
Valenzuela was headed south toward oncoming northbound traffic about a half-mile north of Stagecoach Road when the 2010 Chrysler Sebring he was driving hit the truck.
The truck driver, Jose Hernandez Estrada, 55, of Santa Maria, was taken to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo with moderate injuries. He was able to escape the truck, which was hauling automotive products, before it was engulfed in flames.
Valenzuela worked at Villa Automotive in San Luis Obispo, where co-workers knew him as “Jesse.”