California man charged following fiery fatal crash

LAUREL – A Salisbury man perished and his wife was critically injured when their SUV overturned and caught fire after it was struck by a truck driven by a California man who Delaware State Police say was under the influence.

The fatal crash occurred at 1:41 a.m. Saturday morning on Sussex Highway (U.S. 13) north of Laurel, state police spokesman Master Cpl. Gary Fournier said.

Investigation revealed Michael J. Gonzalez, 32, of Paramount, California, was operating a 2014 Ford F250 southbound on U.S. 13 just north of Boyce Road at an apparent high rate of speed.

The truck struck the rear of a southbound 1998 Mercedes SUV driven by Douglas H. Baker, 42, of Salisbury.

Upon impact, the Mercedes spun down a grass embankment, overturned into thick roadside foliage and caught fire. The driver, Mr. Baker, was trapped. He was pronounced dead at the scene, Cpl. Fournier said.

His wife, Tracey D. Baker, 41, was transported to at Crozer-Chester Hospital in Chester, PA with substantial burns and multiple blunt force injuries, Cpl. Fournier said.

Mr. Gonzalez and a 44-year-old male passenger were transported to Nanticoke Memorial Hospital. They were treated and released with non-life-threatening injuries.

Mr. Gonzalez was taken Troop 5 and charged with vehicular homicide first degree, vehicular assault first degree, vehicular assault second degree, driving under the influence of alcohol, no insurance, driving without a valid license and inattentive driving.  He was arraigned and committed to Sussex Correctional Institution on $40,000 cash bond, Cpl. Fournier said.


The Sussex County Post delivers news from Georgetown and southern Delaware. Follow @SussexPost on Twitter.

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