A speeding 40-year-old driver who set off a fiery California crash that killed six people Thursday has been charged with vehicular manslaughter and gross negligence, officials said Friday.
Driving a Mercedes sedan, the unidentified woman careened through a red light at a crowded intersection in Windsor Hills and plowed into multiple vehicles, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Both the Mercedes and another vehicle burst into flames after coming to rest near a gas station as shocked witnesses looked on.
Several people were ejected from their vehicles after being struck, shocking video of the crash shows.
One car was torn in half by the impact, according to reports.
The six fatalities included Asherey Ryan, her 11-month-old son Alonzo Quintero and boyfriend Reynold Lester, according to officials and local reports.
Ryan was pregnant and Lester was driving her to a prenatal checkup for their unborn child, KABC-TV reported.
“Everybody’s heartbroken,” Ryan’s sister Sha’seana Kerr told KABC-TV. “She literally walked out the door, because we all live together, and she said, ‘OK, I love y’all. I’m going to my doctor’s appointment to check up on the baby.’ We asked, ‘Oh, why don’t you leave our nephew here?’ She said, ‘No, I want to take my son for a ride.’ So, knowing that really, really broke our hearts.”
Eight others, including six kids, suffered varying injuries but are expected to survive.
Witness Alphonso Word told CBS that he saw one woman running from the scene with a motionless child in her arms after the crash. Another minor, he said, was lying in the street.
“It was seeing the kids, that’s what got to me,” he said. “The children. They never had a chance.”
Another witness told ABC that he saw several victims in flames.
“Once the fire went away and the booming left, I realized it was two cars there,” Harper Washington told the station. “You could see the people on fire and that’s just sad. I really pray for the people and the community.”
The driver of the Mercedes also sustained serious injuries and remains hospitalized.
Officials are expected to release further details on the crash — and the charges against the driver — later Friday.