1st Fatality in Ridgecrest Earthquake May Be Man Found Dead Under Jeep 100 Miles From Epicenter: Investigators

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The death of a man found Tuesday pinned beneath a vehicle in Nevada, roughly 100 miles away from the epicenter of last week's major earthquakes near Ridgecrest, is likely related to the destructive temblors, officials said.

The death of the 56-year-old man, who hadn't been seen since the day before the first large quake struck, would be the first related to the largest seismic event in Southern California in the last 20 years.

Authorities in Pahrump, a town near the California border, were first called about the situation around 1 p.m. Tuesday, Nye County Sheriff's Sgt. Adam Tippetts said in a video news release.

Deputies sent to the rural property, on the northeast outskirts of the border town, found the man pinned under a Jeep that had previously been jacked up safely, according to Tippetts.

Based on the position of his body and the tools nearby, it appeared he had been working on the ragtop vehicle when he died.

The circumstances and preliminary information about the time of his death have led investigators to believe the Jeep fell off its jacks during the first earthquake, a magnitude 6.4 that hit on the Fourth of July.

Both that temblor and the following day's 7.1 magnitude quake rattled Pahrump, Tippetts said.

The man was last seen alive at a local gas station on Wednesday, July 3.

His name was not being released, pending the notification of his next of kin.

Closer to their epicenters, the quakes sparked several fires, damaged dozens of structures, disrupted power and gas service, triggered rockslides and cut off water access in the town of Trona.  Gov. Gavin Newsom has estimated the damage is in excess of $100 million.

More than 4,000 aftershocks have already hit, and seismologists expect another 34,000 over the next six months, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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