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Driver dies in crash


A Twain Harte man was killed early this morning after he lost control of his older model sports car and smashed into a hillside on Highway 108 east of Twain Harte Drive.

Dennis James Dugan, 36, was driving east at a high speed at around 1 a.m. when he lost control of his 1967 Porsche as he rounded a right curve, according to a California Highway Patrol report. Dugan struck a hillside sending his car into a roll. He was ejected. The car continued rolling about 300 feet before coming to rest south of the highway.

Highway Patrol Officer Mike Buller said the officer at the accident scene did not note alcohol as being a factor. He said investigators will look at Dugan's activities in the 24 hours before the crash.

Dugan, remembered as a hard worker, was a big off-road racing enthusiast and a professional musician. He also worked as an electrician with his father.

Dugan raced trucks in the Protruck Racing Organization, and was entered to race in a competition in Guam earlier this month. Dugan was sponsored by his father, Barry Dugan of Barry Electric in Sonora. Dugan began racing in 1992, according to a 1999 Union Democrat story, and put his experience to use fabricating and modifying cars for other drivers. At that time Dugan was on a pit crew for B.F. Goodrich Tires. He even appeared on television in a race in 1998.

Longtime friend Verne Harrington of Utah has known Dugan for 12 or 13 years and started him out in racing in 1992. Harrington ran a garage in Soulsbyville before moving to Utah in 1993. He is here visiting friends, especially Dugan, whom he had lunch with Wednesday.

"Everyone who knew him liked him," Harrington said. "He helped everyone."

Harrington said Dugan was preparing for a truck race in Michigan and was set to drive across the country in about a week.

Harrington said Dugan went bowling Wednesday night in Sonora, as he does each week.

When Dugan wasn't racing, he turned to music. He was a "very good" saxophone player, said Rod Harris, director of jazz studies at Columbia College, and once was an active member of the college's jazz band. Dugan played in dozens of college music events.

Heuton Memorial Chapel in Sonora is handling funeral arrangements.

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