Former beauty queen killed in fiery wreck |

Former beauty queen killed in fiery wreck

by F.T. Norton

RENO – A Carson City woman and Reno man were killed in a fiery collision early Friday morning on Interstate 80 in Reno.

Vanessa Marie Fernandez, 22, was pronounced dead at the scene of the 1:54 a.m. accident in which her 2002 blue BMW sedan was struck head-on by a 1995 red BMW sedan traveling the wrong way on the highway near the Robb Drive interchange, said Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Chuck Allen.

“The collision was so violent that the red car immediately became engulfed in flames, burning the driver beyond recognition,” Allen said.

He said although authorities are sure of the identify of the 35-year-old male driver and his wife and mother have been contacted, his name is being withheld until a positive identification can be made through dental records.

The initial investigation reveals the red BMW was eastbound in the left westbound travel lane when it struck Fernandez’ westbound car.

Both westbound travel lanes were closed and traffic was detoured for about three hours.

Allen said at this point it is unclear whether drugs or alcohol contributed to the accident, but historically, drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and who have been found traveling on the wrong side of the road, tend to be in the fast lane of opposing traffic.

“As a safety reminder to all drivers, particularly during the hours of darkness, try and drive in the farthest right lane of a multi-lane highway, or the right portion of a two-lane highway,” Allen said.

Fernandez, a 2000 Yerington High School graduate and former Hispanic Queen of Yerington, has lived in Carson City for the last four years.

A visitation and gathering will be held Monday at 2 p.m. at FitzHenry’s Funeral Home, 833 N. Edmonds Drive.

Contact F.T. Norton at or 881-1213.