Motorist found dead in burning car after violent crash in Kensington

Katherine Scott Image
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
VIDEO: Motorist found dead after violent crash
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Surveillance video shows the sedan blowing through a lamp post in Kensington. A different camera captures the violent crash and explosion.

KENSINGTON (WPVI) -- Police are investigating a violent crash in Kensington that knocked down utility poles, damaged two buildings, scattered debris everywhere and left a driver dead inside the crumpled wreckage of a burning vehicle.

It happened around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Surveillance video shows the 2014 Infiniti sedan blowing through a lamp post in Kensington and hitting the side of one building before a different camera captures the violent crash and explosion into the building across the street on 2nd Street and Cecil B Moore Avenue.

"I thought the world was coming to an end," said Miguel Olmeda.

Olmeda told Action News he heard a loud rumble and felt his building shake as the car sideswiped it, cracking windows and taking out chunks of the facade.

He and other neighbors grabbed fire extinguishers and tried to help the driver, but the fire was too fierce to get inside the car.

"I could feel the heat from here," said Olmeda. "First it was the front of the car. All of a sudden the whole car went up."

"I couldn't get close to get door open because the car was in flames," said Ramon Figueroa.

Firefighters found the victim's body after extinguishing the flames.

The car was destroyed, rendered nearly unrecognizable by the force of multiple impacts.

Police say it had been traveling east when the driver somehow lost control, hit a small tree, jumped a curb and hit two street lights and a traffic light, ripping them all from their bases, before finally smashing into the two buildings.

The driver's body was too badly burned for police to move, so the entire wrecked car was loaded on a flatbed and taken to the medical examiner.

"It just looks like a piece of twisted steel," said Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small as the investigation got underway. "It's hard to even tell it was even a car."

Debris flew everywhere - and it was not just car parts, but also what was inside the car.

Hundreds of packaged McDonald's cups, McDonald's gift cards, and several swipe machines were scattered across the sidewalk.

Police were checking with local McDonald's restaurants to see if the car belonged to any employees.

Neighbors are thankful no one else was hurt.

"Thank God another car wasn't coming down 2nd or he would have taken that person, too," said Figueroa.

Engineers have determined the buildings the car hit remain structurally sound, in spite of some obvious damage.

Police believe the driver was speeding for blocks before the crash happened.

They are working to determine if the car was stolen.

It's all part of the ongoing investigation.