Man found dead near a car fire is identified

NOW: Man found dead near a car fire is identified


CLAY TOWNSHIP, Ind. – The man found dead after a car explosion that happened overnight has been identified as 33-year-old Nicholas Oliver of Elkhart.

Neighbors called 911 after hearing a loud explosion. When officers got to the scene the truck was fully engulfed in flames and Oliver’s body was just feet away.

But why was he there? After doing some digging, ABC 57 found out he does have a criminal past involving auto theft.

“It kind of was like a loud boom. It didn’t make the house rumble or anything like that,” Candace Sprinkle, one neighbor, said.

“It sounded like a bomb or a cannon or something like that. I didn’t think a gas tank,” Brian Hurd, another neighbor said.

Police and fire crews responded to a car explosion on Adams Road just before 4 Saturday morning.

“Then I’ve seen some smoke and some flames,” Hurd said.

Hurd lives next door to where the truck caught fire. He said the fire department was there within minutes.

“They had the fire out within 10 minutes,” he said.

But when police got to the scene, they didn’t just find a car on fire, but a body just feet away.

“I didn’t realize anybody was there. That was kind of heartbreaking you know,” Hurd said.

 “That was pretty stunning. I don’t know what to even think about that I wouldn’t have thought somebody was working on their car and it just blew up on them like that. That’s crazy,” Sprinkle said.

Neighbors say it’s strange anyone was out there working on a car that early. Which begs the questions, why?

After looking into Oliver’s background ABC57 found out he actually had an active warrant on 4 offenses for theft, failure to stop after an accident and driving while suspended, auto theft with intent, and unauthorized entry of a motor vehicle.

Detectives believe Oliver was working on the truck with a torch which sparked an explosion of the gas tank.

St. Joseph County Police Detectives and Clay Fire Department are still investigating. Since the truck is burnt up, they do not know who the owner of the vehicle is.

An autopsy for Oliver is set for next Tuesday.

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