The San Luis Obispo County Coroner confirmed the victim of a fatal car crash Tuesday morning as 30-year-old Matthew Frank, widely known as the SLO Stringer. Many didn’t know his personal identity but his breaking news coverage was followed by tens of thousands of San Luis Obispo County residents.
Frank was reportedly heading to cover a fire in Atascadero in the pre-dawn hours when his vehicle left the roadway near Santa Margarita. It skidded on its side down a grassy embankment, flipped and collided with a tree. The vehicle then caught fire.
CHP spokesperson Jordon Richards said the first responders on scene were Paso Robles police officers who happened to be driving by, on their way home from a drop-off at the county jail. They saw the vehicle on fire but weren't able to extinguish it. Firefighters arrived and put out the fire but Frank was pronounced dead on the scene. His next of kin have been notified.
Last year, the SLOStringer won the New Times' best social media presence award, and his website and Facebook page garnered tens of thousands of likes and hits.
Since news of his death began circulating Tuesday morning, hundreds of people have written condolence messages on his Facebook page. Many thanked Frank for his wide ranging coverage of breaking news since 2011, when he launched his one-man, volunteer operation.
"The first responder community was very fond of his portrayal of us," San Miguel volunteer firefighter Matt Toevs wrote in an email to KCBX.