Fayette First Assistant County Attorney Brian Mattone died late Wednesday in a fiery auto crash in Woodford County.
Woodford County Coroner Ronald Owens said Mattone's body was badly burned, and dental records were used to help make the identification.
The coroner said the cause of death was blunt-force trauma. "He was dead before the vehicle caught on fire," Owens said.
Mattone was driving a Toyota 4Runner east on Old Frankfort Pike when the SUV went off the left side of the road, struck a tree and went through a plank fence, Versailles police Lt. Daniel Clark said.
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The vehicle then caught fire. "By the time our officers arrived, the vehicle was fully engulfed in flames, and there wasn't anything anybody could do," Clark said.
Fayette County Attorney Larry Roberts said he went to the crash scene, where he saw Mattone's cellphone and a placard from the county attorney's office.
The crash between Aiken and Midway roads was reported shortly after 10 p.m. Wednesday by a night security guard who was driving in the area and came upon the wreck, Clark said.
He said Versailles police had not determined the cause of the accident, but he said the vehicle's speed "may have been a contributing factor."
Clark said alcohol was not suspected as a cause. He said police would review toxicology reports.
Roberts said Mattone, 40, had been his second in command at the Fayette County Attorney's office since Roberts took office in 2006.
"He was with me through every decision that we made in the office, which are thousands of decisions, since 2006," Roberts said.
"He was a great prosecutor. It's just a loss to the legal community and the police department, with which he was extremely close," Roberts said.
He said Mattone was interested in cycling, had recently bought a new bicycle and might have gone riding on a trail in Franklin County on Wednesday night before the accident. The bicycle was in the vehicle, Roberts said.
In the county attorney's office, Mattone initiated a driver-education program that Roberts said is unique in the country.
"He was a very good manager of people," Roberts said. "He was very well respected in this office. I can't think of anybody in this office that has worked harder daily than he has."
Lexington police Chief Ronnie Bastin described Mattone as "a strong law enforcement partner and friend to the Division of Police. His commitment to justice, determined work ethic and kind spirit were invaluable assets to Fayette County and the Commonwealth of Kentucky. He will certainly be missed."
Fayette Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson said Mattone worked in his office for about eight years before he went to the county attorney's office. "He was a wonderful young man," said Larson. "Came from a super family and worked hard. He was a good trial lawyer and just an extremely caring kind of guy.
"We will all miss him."
Roberts said Mattone is survived by his parents, Frank and Mina Mattone of Lexington, two brothers and a sister.