Search continues for driver of car believed to be racing with vehicle that crashed, killing its four occupants

Search continues for driver of car believed to be racing with vehicle that crashed, killing its four occupants
Two men and two women were killed when their speeding vehicle slammed into a tree in Northridge late Friday, an incident authorities believe may have involved street racing. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Authorities are continuing their search for the driver of a car they believe was racing with another vehicle that crashed into a tree in Northridge, killing all four occupants.

The crash occurred about 11 p.m. Friday, when the driver of a silver BMW lost control of the car while speeding east on Lassen Street alongside a dark-colored sedan, said Officer Shane Bales of the Los Angeles Police Department. The BMW crossed into oncoming traffic lanes near Balboa Boulevard and hit a light pole before slamming into a tree.

Flames engulfed the car, and the impact was so severe that it ejected the car’s engine, Bales said. The car broke into several pieces.

Authorities believe the cars were traveling in excess of 100 mph.

The victims were identified Saturday as Martin Gomez, 20, of Granada Hills, who was said to be at the wheel; Denney Lomeli, 20, of North Hills; Leena Ammari, 21, of Reseda; and Amanda Alfar of Panorama City, whose family said she was 21.

The two men were seated in the front and the women in the backseat, police said. All four were killed instantly.

Police are still searching for the driver of the second vehicle that was seen driving alongside the BMW.

It was last seen speeding down Balboa Boulevard and did not stop, officials said. Police suspect the drivers of the two vehicles may have been racing.

"We have very little details, but we're hoping since people did die that the family members, friends, somebody's going to come forward," Bales said. "It's rare that people race each other that don't know each other."

The LAPD posted dramatic video on Twitter and Instagram on Saturday showing a black car zooming through the camera frame, followed by flashing lights and smoke behind it, apparently from the impact and flames shooting up after the crash. “LAPD needs your help to solve this tragic crash that took four young lives,” officials said in another post, asking neighbors to check their security camera videos.

Dozens of friends and family members of the victims gathered at the crash site late Saturday for a candlelight vigil.