Published September 29, 2013
BURBANK, Calif. – Five young people were killed early Saturday morning after a car spun out and burst into flames in Burbank, Calif., trapping people inside, officials said.
Family members and friends identified the victims to MyFoxLA.com as Stephen Stoll, Sebastian Forero, Malak Hariri, Sugey Cuevas, and Sameer Navarez. Their exact ages were not given, but the family members told the station that all were teens who had recently graduated from area high schools. Burbank police said they were waiting for autopsy reports to confirm the victims' identities and to determine whether alcohol was a factor in the crash.
Lt. Larry Dietz of the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner said an investigator was at the crash site. Dietz said the bodies were burned, and depending on how badly they were burned, fingerprints or dental records could be used to identify those killed.
Speed does appear to have been a factor. The car burst into flames after striking a guardrail near an I-5 off-ramp, a stretch of roadway where freeway speed limits are quickly reduced because of nearby homes and where accidents have happened in the past, according to authorities.
"She's a very smart girl, very good girl, very respectful girl. She never had problems at home with us," said Suhilah Hariri, a relative of victim Malak Hariri, who said she had raised the teen.
There was one survivor found about 50 yards from the burning Nissan when police arrived on the scene shortly after 4 a.m. The 18-year-old woman was taken to the Los Angeles County Medical Center, said Sergeant Darin Ryburn. She suffered a broken leg and appeared to be in serious condition, according to Fire Battalion Chief Ron Barone. A friend of the woman told MyFoxLA.com that she had also suffered a dislocated hip and would need rods put in her leg as a result of her injuries.
Paramedics reported smelling alcohol on the survivor's breath, said Barone. It's unclear how the woman got out of the vehicle while the others were trapped inside.
The vehicle was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived.
"There was absolutely no possibility of any rescue whatsoever," Barone said.
The flames from the fire spread to nearby trees and brush and Barone says they were doused within moments of firefighters' arriving.
"It was pretty horrific," Ryburn said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.