Crime - Sacto 911

UPDATE: Coroner identifies driver in fatal Carmichael crash

A woman speeding south on Walnut Avenue crashed her car into a redwood tree Sunday and killed herself and a male passenger, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The Sacramento County Coroner’s Office identified the driver as Christine Payne, 23, of Sacramento. Her passenger was identified as Artyom Becher, 29. The Coroner’s Office’s online records did not list a city of residence for Becher.

Witnesses estimated the speed of the 2004 Dodge Neon at 80 to 85 miles per hour, Officer Todd Van Lindt said. Investigators put it at 60-65, he said.

The crash took place at 9:48 a.m. just south of Marconi Avenue, on the northbound side of the street.

An examination of the scene showed the car smashed into a redwood tree with a trunk that appeared to be two feet in diameter. The car looked as if it had been headed toward an apartment building.

"Without the tree, the car would have wound up in a living room in that apartment complex," Van Lindt said. "With all the pedestrians and vehicle traffic in the area, this could have been a lot worse."

Call The Bee’s Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.