A Mercedes-Benz running a red light Thursday in Los Angeles reportedly caused a multi-vehicle collision that left at least five people dead and eight injured, according to the Los Angeles Times. The crash and resulting blaze killed an infant, a pregnant woman and her unborn child.
Surveillance footage captured the black Mercedes speeding past a red light on La Brea and Slauson avenues and hitting a light pole at 1:40 p.m. The vehicle reportedly crashed into at least six other cars — three of which went up in flames, the California Highway Patrol told CBS LA.
“It looked like the whole intersection from corner to corner was on fire. A lot of sparks and electricity. I was under the impression that really at first I thought they dropped a bomb on us,” witness Harper Washington told KABC-TV.
“Once the fire went away and the booming left, I realized it was two cars there,” added Washington. “You could see the people on fire and that’s just sad. I really pray for the people and the community.”
The driver was arrested Saturday and identified as 37-year-old Nicole Lorraine Linton, according to NBC News. Linton, who is from Houston and worked in Los Angeles as a nurse, was charged with vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence after being hospitalized for moderate injuries.
Officer Franco Pepi told the Los Angeles Times the highway patrol was counting the unborn child of the pregnant woman killed in the crash, who has been identified as 23-year-old Asherey Ryan, as an additional fatality, “due to rare circumstances.” Her 11-month-old son also died in the crash, officials said.
Five people, save for the woman’s unborn child, were declared dead on the scene. Officials have yet to release the names and ages of the other three victims who died. The entire intersection was riddled with debris, among which witness Veronica Esquivel claimed she saw a baby.
Esquivel told KTLA she rushed over to the scene to aid the infant before a first responder “took the baby out of my hands” and another person attempted resuscitation, “but the baby was gone.”
Another person, whose age and gender have yet to be determined, was later found in the husk of their car. At least six of those injured were teenagers, one of whom sustained major injuries. One of the injured refused assistance, while the others were rushed to receive treatment at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
The youngest injured victim was 13 months old, the highway patrol and Los Angeles County Fire Department told NBC Los Angeles. The others were ages 8, 11, 13, 14 and 15. All were released in good condition Thursday night.
This piece has been updated with information about the driver’s arrest and with additional information about the victims.