Four men were killed in a high-speed crash that prompted an hourslong closure of several lanes on the northbound 710 Freeway through the Bell Gardens area Wednesday morning.
The 2014 model M5 BMW was speeding northbound on the 710 Freeway north of Firestone Boulevard around 3:15 a.m. when the driver lost control and the car veered to the right and crashed into the metal guardrail and a pole, according to a California Highway Patrol incident report.
Witnesses told CHP officials they saw two vehicles racing prior to one of them hitting the pole, but investigators have not been able to confirm those reports.
“We are aware that statements were made alleging street racing, and we’re investigating that aspect," said CHP Sgt. Ray Bembi.
Speed was believed to have played a role in the deadly crash, according to investigators.
“Based on the tire friction marks and everything you see here, we could easily assume and visually see that this was an extremely high rate of speed and ultimately was one of the major contributing factors to this collision," Bembi said.
The force of the impact left the BMW sedan wrapped around the pole, Sky5 aerial video showed. The wreckage was strewn about the freeway and next to the road; car parts also ended up in the backyard of a nearby home, according to a resident.
All four occupants were pronounced dead at the scene.
Family members identified the victims as Hussein Saab, Hussein Ayoub, Hussein Ghasham and Hussein Saleh, who ranged in age from 20 to 25.
The group — two of whom are cousins and the other two family friends — were killed while driving home after a late meal, since they are observing Ramadan, relatives said.
One of their brothers was driving behind their car and witnessed the crash, one of the relatives added.
The family expects all four to be buried in their parents' hometown in Lebanon.
CHP confirmed that the victims were men, but did not identify any of them. The report listed two victims as 22 years old; no age was listed for the other two.
All of them were wearing seat belts at the time.
Alcohol is not believed to have been a factor, though the coroner's office still needed to investigate, according to the CHP statement.
Molly Gonzalez, whose backyard sits on the other side of a fence behind the freeway's northbound lanes, said she found pieces of the crumpled BMW in her pool.
“Can you imagine the impact on that car?” she said. “I feel sorry for the families that lost all those kids.”
Gonzalez said the noise created by the force of the impact even woke her neighbor out of bed, and he jumped over the fence to help the victims.
A SigAlert was issued shortly after the crash for multiple lanes on the northbound lanes 710 Freeway.
One lane remained closed as of 3 p.m. for guardrail repair, and it was not immediately known when it would be reopened.
The location of the crash as originally described by CHP was believed to be in the South Gate area, but it was actually just north over the border in Bell Gardens.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the East Los Angeles Area CHP Office at 323-980-4600.
KTLA's Alberto Mendez contributed to this report.