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Woman found in car identified

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By Tom Wilmoth

The person found dead in a burned car off Ole Turnpike Road July 23 has been identified.

According to Bedford City Police, the victim was Benita Donnella Woods, 37, of Lynchburg. Woods died of smoke inhalation after the vehicle caught fire, probably after the car's catalytic converter came in contact with brush where it came to rest after leaving the road.

Bedford Police Chief Jim Day has said there is no evidence of foul play. He said there was a thorough investigation at the scene of the fire as well as any possible leads in the case. He said screens were used to sift through the debris left inside and around the car.

Day said the medical examiner ruled after an examination that smoke inhalation was the cause of death and that there wasn't any evidence of other injuries.

Day said speed did play a factor in the case and the department continues to wait for results from toxicology tests to see if alcohol was involved. It is believed that Woods was out with friends that night, Day said.

The vehicle left the road and traveled 200 feet into brush. Day has said apparently the driver was incapacitated, following the accident, and the car caught fire. He said that probably occurred after the vehicle's catalytic converter came into contact with brush in the overgrown field where the vehicle came to rest.

Day said Woods was driving here from Lynchburg.

The car was registered in Kentucky to Woods' mother. Day said the car contained numerous items and clothes, and it looked like she was between addresses.

An overnight worker near the accident heard several pops and went out to find what had caused them, driving around. That worker saw the fire in the woods and called 911. By the time rescue crews arrived the car was fully involved in flames.