Six months after inferno on wheels, investigators reveal cause of Liverpool crash

The crash was a nightmare for everyone who saw its aftermath. Now, six months after it happened, investigators have put the pieces together to determine who died and how.


n the morning of January 11, Eteng Itam, 63, was driving an SUV on Old Liverpool Road in Liverpool.

Detective Jon Seeber of the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department says Itam was a heavy smoker who


decision to light or put out a cigarette in the vehicle proved deadly.

"He had several rags in the vehicle that must have been soaked with gasoline and other flamable fluids that had been used to do work on the car," Seeber said.

The blaze started in the passenger side of the vehicle. Investigators have determined


Itam took off his seatbelt to open his door, but that only made things worse. "When he finally did get the door open


there was oxygen pouring into the car and that made the fire worse," Seeber confirmed.

After the crash, investigators determined Itam had been living in the United States under an assumed name


after he stole the identity of a North Carolina man.

Detective Seeber says Itam had been in this country for at least 30 years. The Onondaga County Sheriff's Department has been working with authorities in Nigeria for the last six months to make a positive identification after the fiery crash.

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