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Fiery street-racing crash leaves 2 dead, 1 severely burned in Anaheim, police say

Two people were killed Saturday in a crash involving street racing in Anaheim, authorities said.
(KTLA)

Two people were killed and a third was seriously injured in a fiery street-racing crash in Anaheim that ended when one driver lost control of his vehicle and barreled through a light post before slamming into a building early Saturday morning, authorities said.

The crash occurred about 2 a.m. in the 1700 block of Ball Road. Witnesses told police that two vehicles were racing at speeds of up to 100 mph when one driver “hit a dip” and lost control, slamming over a curb and smashing through a concrete lamp post, according to Sgt. Daron Wyatt, an Anaheim police spokesman.

The car, described as a 2003 Nissan Infiniti, then struck several parked cars and rolled over multiple times before it smashed into the patio of an apartment and caught fire, Wyatt said.

The driver and a passenger in the back seat were pronounced dead at the scene, Wyatt said. A third victim, who was riding in the front passenger seat, was ejected from the vehicle and suffered severe burns. The man, identified as a 24-year-old Anaheim resident, was in critical condition late Saturday but is expected to survive.

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Anaheim police said the fire damaged the exterior of the nearby apartment complex. The Red Cross was assisting residents.

Investigators believe the race happened spontaneously, and detectives are attempting to determine if it was captured by surveillance cameras, Wyatt said. Police are still searching for another vehicle involved in the race, which witnesses described as a “sports car similar to a Mustang or a Camaro,” Wyatt said.

The two deceased victims were badly burned, which has made it difficult for police to identify them. Wyatt said investigators have tentatively identified the driver as a 19-year-old man from Stanton, though officials will need to extract DNA to confirm the man’s identity.

The passenger who was killed has been identified only as a man, Wyatt said.

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Police do not track statistics on street racing the way they do other crimes, such as murder or robbery, but investigators in Southern California say races have become more common in recent years. The area has become an attractive target for car clubs, with some traveling all the way from the Bay Area to coordinate drag races and other dangerous driving contests.

Racers have also taken to using Instagram and other social media to quickly change the locations of races and “sideshows,” car meets where drivers will compete for money while performing dangerous stunts

Saturday’s crash in Anaheim was the latest in a string of deaths related to street racing in Southern California in the last year, officials said.

Earlier this year, a 36-year-old music teacher was killed when a suspected street racer lost control of his vehicle during a race on a busy Hawthorne thoroughfare. In February, a crash linked to street racing killed three people on the 5 Freeway, including the son of a Los Angeles County sheriff’s lieutenant. In July, a teenager was shot and killed by undercover California Highway Patrol officers after he fled from a truck meet in Orange County.

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The deaths have prompted action from law enforcement. Los Angeles police created two separate task forces to combat the issue in 2014, and the department is now helping spearhead a countywide task force aimed at curtailing racing activity. In Orange County, Wyatt said police have also been working to track racers to remote areas where they attempt to hold organized competitions.

james.queally@latimes.com

shelby.grad@latimes.com

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UPDATES:

4:55 p.m.: This story was updated with additional information from Anaheim Police and additional background on street racing in Southern California.

This story first published at 7:20 a.m.


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