An Associated Press photographer in Cuba, Franklin Reyes Marrero, has died in a car accident while returning from an assignment west of Havana.

Reyes, 39, was driving from the port of Mariel on Monday after working on a story about the Cuban economy. He apparently hit a patch of gravel and lost control of his car, which crossed into oncoming traffic and collided with another vehicle, police and medical officials said. They said he died at the scene.

The two occupants of the other car died later. Police did not release their identities.

Reyes is the fourth AP journalist killed on assignment this year. In April, photographer Anja Niedringhaus was shot and killed by a police commander in Afghanistan. And in August, video journalist Simone Camilli and translator Ali Shehda Abu Afash were killed by an explosion of leftover ordnance in the Gaza Strip.

"Franklin Reyes was a vibrant and enthusiastic member of our team in Cuba, and proud to be working for AP," said the news cooperative's president and chief executive officer, Gary Pruitt.

"He was an integral part of AP's team in Cuba. His passion and professionalism were exemplary and his energy, talent and good company will be deeply missed," said AP Director of Photography Santiago Lyon.

Among other assignments, Reyes helped cover Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Cuba and the damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy.

"Franklin was smart, funny, an excellent colleague, journalist and photographer, said Enric Marti, regional photo editor for Latin America and the Caribbean. "His pictures will speak for him forever."

Reyes' relatives remembered him as a man dedicated to his wife, Gricell Fernandez Mendez, and other family members, often presenting them with landscape photos as gifts.

"He was an exceptional man, a great son, a great husband," said his mother-in-law, Gricel Mendez.

Born in Havana, Reyes began his career as a warehouse employee at the state-run newspaper Juventud Rebelde. He took a photography course offered by Cuba's official journalists' association and became a professional. The newspaper sent him to Mexico and Venezuela, and his photos were published in a book. He came to work for AP in 2009.

In addition to his wife, Reyes is survived by his parents and brother.