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Cottage Grove man dead after fiery crash

Investigators were attempting to learn what led to a fiery crash that left a man dead Thursday, May 22, near the Woodbury-Newport border. (Bulletin photo by Mike Longaecker)

A Cottage Grove man died after his car left the road, crashed into a tree and caught fire Thursday near the Woodbury-Newport border.

Family members confirmed the driver, 58-year-old Charles Lake, was pronounced dead at Regions Hospital in St. Paul.

Lake was taken by ambulance to Regions after being freed from the burning car by a passer-by. Woodbury police said the driver was unconscious on the scene.

Woodbury police Sgt. Curt Zacharias said the single-vehicle crash occurred after the eastbound car left the roadway on a windy stretch in the 6000 block of Military Road. The car struck a tree and “erupted into flames,” Zacharias said.

A bystander rushed to the scene and pulled the man from the burning car, police said. Without that help, “things would have been different” for the driver, Zacharias said.

Family member Renee Lake said the family was “ever so grateful” for the bystander’s assistance. She said it’s possible a medical condition may have led to the crash. An autopsy was being performed.

The Minnesota State Patrol was called to perform a reconstruction of the scene.