The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office reported today that a 79 year old Dunsmuir man who died after a vehicle collision the evening of Jan. 3 “likely suffered a health-related medical emergency.”

A preliminary investigation revealed that Ralph Eugene Hatten, Sr. was driving a 1994 Mercury sedan on Stagecoach Avenue below the speed limit when it collided with a parked vehicle, according to a Sheriff’s Office news release. He was the only driver involved in the collision.

The Sheriff’s Office reported that its units responded just before 5:30 p.m. to a report of the accident and found Mr. Hatten in his vehicle and “in what appeared to be medical distress.”

“Medical staff from a nearby clinic and shortly thereafter, fire-rescue personnel from the Dunsmuir Fire Department promptly responded and rendered medical aid to the driver,” according to the release. “He was then transported via ambulance to Mercy Mount Shasta Hospital for further treatment. Tragically, the driver was later pronounced dead at the hospital.”

The determination that Mr. Hatten “likely suffered a health-related medical emergency” was “based on an analysis by attending medical staff and further investigation by SCSO investigators,” according to the release.

The Sheriff’s Office said its “Chief Deputy Coroner will release a final determination on the cause and manner of death when all of the evidence, medical reports, and other available information is fully reviewed.”

Dunsmuir is one of four cities that contract with the Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement services.

Sheriff Jon Lopey states in the release: “On behalf of the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office, I would like to offer our thoughts and prayers to Mr. Hatten, his family, friends, and associates in the aftermath of his tragic death. I would also like to thank the medical staff of the clinic, Dunsmuir Fire Department personnel, and Mercy Mt. Shasta Hospital medical professionals for their prompt, decisive, and noteworthy efforts to save Mr. Hatten. This case is still under investigation and anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office 24-hour Dispatch Center at (530) 841-2900.”