Bystanders who observed a fiery multivehicle crash that resulted in the deaths of three people in Woodland Hills Saturday night sprang into action to help the victims in the aftermath of the collision, according to multiple witness accounts.
The four-car crash, which occurred in the 20900 block of Ventura Boulevard shortly after 9 p.m., started when a white Mercedes-Benz pulled out of a gas station and was hit by a Ford Mustang that was headed westbound on the heavily traveled roadway, a desk officer with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Valley Traffic Division said.
The Mustang continued on after the initial collision, hitting a vehicle that was going eastbound on Ventura before crashing into a parked car, according to the desk officer.
One of the vehicles caught fire, and bystanders used extinguishers and buckets of water as they attempted to knock out the flames before firefighters arrived, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
“There was fire coming out from the car, so we were trying to put — but we were helpless,” recounted Moman Breete, an employee at the nearby Chevron station who was among those attempting to render aid to the victims.
“We were trying to help them out,” he said.
In the meantime, they had also called 911, according to Breete.
Several emergency vehicles arrived at the scene a short time after, using the Jaws of Life to extricate people, according to a witness who identified herself as Lisa.
She said it appeared one of the vehicles was speeding at the time of the collision; the crash left a trail of wreckage as pieces of the cars were scattered all over the roadway.
“The debris flew on both sides of the streets, so the impacts were quite severe,” the woman added.
Investigators have not said whether speed was a factor.
Another witness, Holly Sharpe, told KTLA in an interview Sunday morning that one of the drivers involved had cut in front of her to use the gas station bathroom just prior to the deadly crash, according to Sharpe.
“He cut me in line. We were waiting in line for the restroom,” she said. “He was in such a hurry.”
Sharpe heard the collision, then went outside the station and saw bystanders running to the burning wreckage to provide assistance to the victims.
“A bunch of people were rushing to the scene,” she said. “People were just rushing to the Mustang because it was completely destroyed. That was the car that got the most impact, it looked like.”
The three occupants of the Mustang died after the crash, authorities said. Their names, ages and genders were not released as of Sunday morning.
“This is so difficult to know that a mother is going to wake up to see that person who died in the Mustang – that he’s not going to wake up today. His mother has got to deal with that,” Sharpe said as she began to cry. “I feel sorry”
Two people were also seriously injured, while three patients declined transport, the Fire Department said.
It was not known whether alcohol or drugs played a role in the crash, according to the LAPD desk officer. The crash remained under investigation.
A block and a half stretch of Ventura Boulevard was shut down for several hours after the crash until investigators left and the wreckage was cleared from the street.
KTLA’s Geoff Peters contributed to this story.