A vigil was held Friday night for four women who died after the car in which they were traveling lost control, plummeted 20 feet into a flood channel and burst into flames in San Bernardino.
The collision occurred around 8:30 p.m. on Thursday near the corner of Fifth Street and North Water Avenue, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Witnesses told investigators a Toyota Camry with four female occupants inside was traveling at a high rate of speed on westbound Fifth Street when the driver lost control while attempting to pass another vehicle.
The Toyota crashed through a steel bridge railing and came to rest in a concrete flood control channel below the roadway, where the vehicle was consumed by flames.
The driver and the right-rear passenger were ejected, the CHP said in a collision report. The two passengers remaining inside the vehicle were burned beyond recognition, according to the CHP.
Witnesses said they heard the girls screaming for help. Some rushed toward the burning car but were not able to get to the wreckage.
“I saw two girls. One was screaming and asking for help, but nobody could help. That was so sad,” witness Edilberto Alvarez said. “There was no way to help because there were no stairs, nothing. It was too dangerous.”
Cellphone video taken by a witness showed flames rising more than 10 feet, with one person trying to spray the car down with a hose before fire engines arrived.
A bystander can be heard yelling, “The lady is still moving — next to the car, on the ground.”
“I hope there’s no babies in there,” another person said.
One of the passengers was transported to Arrowhead Region Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead at about 11:30 p.m., according to the CHP collision report.
Three of the victims had been identified, according to the San Bernardino County coroner’s office. They were Germany Brizick Lee Willis and Joy Terri Doss, both 24, and Kristy Marie Ortiz-Medina, 36.
CHP Officer Brian Alvarez called it a “tragic, tragic collision.”
The exact cause of the crash was under investigation.
Crews were on the scene midday Friday, repairing the bridge’s rail. The concrete bottom of the flood control channel remained blackened from the fire.
Anyone wishing to donate to the families was asked to conect Joy Terri Doss’ stepfather at firstname.lastname@example.org.
KTLA’s Anita Bennett, Christina Pascucci and Melissa Pamer contributed to this article.