The crash was reported at about 1:40 p.m. when a dark-colored Mercedes sped through a red light without braking and struck two vehicles in an intersection in the Windsor Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, video obtained by KTLA showed. The vehicles then careened into a gas station in a ball of fire.
Six people were declared dead at the scene, including a body that was found in a burned car, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Also among the fatalities were a pregnant woman and an infant, authorities said.
Witness Veronica Esquival was pumping gas feet away from the collision and said she covered her head for protection as debris flew wildly.
“All of the sudden, a baby literally flew from the middle of the intersection to the middle of the gas station and landed right on the floor in front of me,” Esquival said. “One of the workers came and saw me with the baby and took the baby out of my hands. Somebody tried to resuscitate the baby, but the baby was gone.”
Alphonso Word said he was only a few cars away from the intersection when the crash occurred “like a bomb.”
“Like I say, it’s the kids. That’s what touched me more than anything, the children, the ones that didn’t get a chance. The mother that probably was happy that she’s having a baby,” Word said.
A number of cars were damaged and destroyed, authorities said.
“We have a total of at least six to seven vehicles involved at minimum at this time. Three became engulfed in flames,” said CHP spokesman Franco Pepsi.
The intersection of La Brea and Slauson remained closed Thursday night and was expected to remain closed for a significant period, including Friday morning.
The cause of the crash was under investigation by the CHP, but Pepsi confirmed that the driver was a 40-year-old woman who suffered major injuries while driving “a two-door Mercedes traveling at a high rate of speed southbound on La Brea.”
“Just unknown reasons for the high speed at this time … Everyone needs to drive with more due regard because a lot of collisions happen, and this just happens to be at the top of the list of how bad they can get,” Pepsi said.