PLYMOUTH TOWNSHIP, PA — Police in Plymouth Township, Montgomery County, yesterday said that Sreenivasan V. Nathan, who first appeared to have died in a fiery one-car crash Monday, committed suicide.

Nathan survived the crash, left the vehicle and went door to door asking for matches.

On Monday morning, police said they found Nathan's car in flames after it had crashed through a wooden barrier on a curve on Butler Pike, slid down an embankment and hit a tree.

But yesterday, after further investigation, police determined that Nathan, a civil engineer who was president of his own company in Blue Bell, had killed himself.

Police said Nathan, 52, of Chestnut Hill, survived the crash about 5:15 Monday morning. But Nathan left the vehicle and went door to door on Butler Pike asking for matches. He returned to the car and set fire to it. Police found Nathan's body burned beyond recognition, slouched across the passenger seat.

Plymouth Detective Christopher Galetti said Nathan's wife told police that he had spoken of committing suicide over the last two years. A note was found at Nathan's office, but Galetti declined to disclose its contents.

Galetti said an autopsy was performed on Nathan by county coroner consultant Halbert Fillinger, who determined that he died of smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Nathan had been involved in a highly publicized battle with neighbors in Chestnut Hill over his efforts to build a house in a wooded area near Wissahickon Creek. The neighbors, who believed the house was inappropriate for their neighborhood, recently took the case to Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. Nathan had publicly complained that the battle was draining him financially.