Four people were killed and two were critically burned in a fiery seven-vehicle crash in the western valley Thursday evening, according to Las Vegas police.
Officers were called to Durango Drive and Desert Inn Road just before 5:30 p.m. after police said a driver sped through a red light and hit another moving car, killing three people in that car and sending both into a third car before bursting into flames.
In details released about 5:40 a.m. Friday, police said a 39-year-old man driving a 2016 Mazda 6 was driving eastbound at an “excessive rate of speed” and failed to maintain his travel lane and hit the center median west of the intersection.
The Mazda continued east and rear-ended a 2017 Dodge Journey with five occupants which was stopped in the inside left turn lane to Durango.
The impact caused the Dodge to travel east into the intersection. A Lexus RS330 and a Ford Escape were clipped by the Dodge or Mazda.
The Dodge and Mazda then struck two more vehicles, including an Audi A3.
The Dodge, Mazda and Audi all caught fire.
Seven cars were damaged in total, and witnesses sprang to action quickly, according to Metropolitan Police Department Capt. Jason Letkiewicz.
“The citizens who went out and put their own lives at risk were able to remove two people from the vehicle that currently has three victims in it, so instead of five people dead in that vehicle, there were only three because people were brave enough to move forth and pull those people out of that vehicle,” he said.
(vid courtesy of Torrey Klover)
Two juveniles suffered critical burns.
One juvenile and one adult were taken to University Medical Center with injuries that were not considered life-threatening.
The driver who ran the red light also died, police said, and one juvenile was among the four people killed.
Christian Chmiel was getting gas at the Chevron station at Durango and Spring Mountain Road when the crash happened. He said he was most shocked by how quickly such a large fire broke out.
“I got out and noticed quite a few people in the middle of the intersection on foot trying to help, and that a fire had started,” Chmiel wrote to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Within a minute, the flames absolutely erupted, and small explosions were heard periodically, to which the people helping would run back several steps in fear of a bigger explosion.”
Chmiel said he left a few minutes after emergency crews arrived, and there was still “considerable fire.”
“There is no place you have to be so badly that you put yourself or someone else’s life at risk,” Letkiewicz said at a briefing. “Just think about somebody, maybe, beside yourself.”
The deaths bring the traffic fatality toll in Metro’s jurisdiction to 109 this year.
The Clark County coroner’s office will release the names of the deceased after relatives have been notified.
Letkiewicz said would be blocked 200 yards in all directions from the intersection.
Durango remained closed from Morningstar Lane to Spring Mountain Road until 4:30 a.m.