The tragedy unfolded in the blink of an eye.
At least six people were killed and eight injured when a woman driving a Mercedes sped through a red light, colliding with several other vehicles at an intersection in Windsor Hills Thursday.
The crash was reported about 1:40 p.m. at South La Brea and Slauson avenues.
Video obtained by KTLA shows the Mercedes traveling at a high rate of speed and – without braking – strike several vehicles in the intersection. The vehicles then careened into a gas station in a ball of fire.
Six people were declared dead at the scene, according to the California Highway Patrol. Among the fatalities: a pregnant woman, her unborn child, and an infant, authorities said.
Witness Veronica Esquival was pumping gas feet away from the collision and said she covered her head for protection as debris was flying.
“All of the sudden, a baby literally flew from the middle of the intersection to the middle of the gas station and landed right on the floor in front of me,” Esquival said. “One of the workers came and saw me with the baby and took the baby out of my hands. Somebody tried to resuscitate the baby, but the baby was gone.”
Alphonso Word said he was only a few cars away from the intersection when the crash occurred “like a bomb.”
“Like I say, it’s the kids. That’s what touched me more than anything, the children, the ones that didn’t get a chance. The mother that probably was happy that she’s having a baby,” Word said.
A number of cars were damaged and destroyed, authorities said.
“We have a total of at least six to seven vehicles involved, at minimum, at this time. Three became engulfed in flames,” said CHP spokesman Franco Pepi.
The intersection of La Brea and Slauson remained closed Thursday night and was expected to remain closed for a significant period, including Friday morning.
The cause of the crash was under investigation by the CHP, but Pepi confirmed that the driver is a 40-year-old woman who suffered major injuries while driving “a two-door Mercedes traveling at a high rate of speed southbound on La Brea.”
“Just unknown reasons for the high speed at this time … Everyone needs to drive with more due regard because a lot of collisions happen, and this just happens to be at the top of the list of how bad they can get,” Pepi said.