Mother, 4 children killed in fiery crash witnessed by father are ID'd

The mother and four children who were killed in a fiery crash in the Central Valley on Saturday have been identified by Fresno County coroner's officials.

Esmeralda Saucedo, 29, and her four children -- Isaac Saucedo, 1; Nikko Saucedo, 3; Jada Saucedo, 6; and Breanna Reyes, 11; all of Riverdale -- were killed as their father, who was traveling behind the family in a separate car, watched helplessly as the SUV burst into flames. The youngest boy would have turned 2 on Monday.


The father suffered burns as he broke out windows of the Ford Expedition in an attempt to free his family, authorities said.

The driver of the Nissan, identified by the California Highway Patrol as Juana Martinez Bejarano, 41, was taken to a hospital with unspecified injuries after she collided with the SUV at an intersection in Riverdale, south of Fresno, while going about 60 mph, authorities said.

The collision occurred about 7 p.m.

It was not immediately clear whether the family died of the impact, or of the flames, although CHP Capt. Dave Paris told ABC30-TV it appeared that the driver "tried to get out, but didn't make it."

There was no evidence that drugs or alcohol played a role in the crash, but investigators are looking at whether Bejarano was on medication at the time of the accident, the Associated Press reported. 

The family was reportedly returning from a family birthday party when they approached the intersection of Excelsior and South Marks avenues. That's when the father told authorities he suddenly saw "this flash and he got into the intersection and the car was already on fire," Paris told the news station. 

Witnesses described how they had to pull the husband away from the burning wreckage as he tried to rescue his family.

"Nobody was moving, nobody was screaming, nobody was crying," Robert Pierce told the Fresno Bee, adding that the car was engulfed in flames up to 15 feet high.